Java Sparrow – courtship ritual

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“I was fortunate to witness a courtship ritual of the Java Sparrows (Lonchura oryzivora).

SparrowJv-ct [AmarSingh] 1

“These are released captives (feral population) but have breed successfully in the wild, mostly around limestone caves. I was some distance away when it began and approached as quickly/close as possible. The courtship was initiated by one bird and took the form of many bowing episodes to the other partner while making calls and some bill clicks (above).

SparrowJv-ct [AmarSingh] 2

“This bird also did many ‘leaps’ and upward-downward stretches while in a bowing posture (composite, above). I observed this for ~ 90 seconds when they were interrupted by a Long-tailed Macaque (Macaca fascicularis) that had come to feed. During my observation the ‘partner’ did not interact with the ‘dancing bird’. I did attempt courtship call recordings but the environment was too noisy to process them. 

“Wells 2007 does record some synchronised bowing after copulation.

“Payne & Sharpe (2017) in HBW describes males bowing during courtship. Similar to my observation they report the male ‘stands upright and, bent over perch, with head and tail pointing down, bows to female, and in this posture bounces up and down, extending and bending legs (feet leave perch and make a noise on contact).’

“A study of captive birds offers more details on courtship. See: Soma M, Iwama M (2017) Mating success follows duet dancing in the Java sparrow. PLoS ONE 12(3): e0172655 LINK.

“However I am not entirely sure if birds will behave the same way in a captive environment as in the wild.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
6th September 2017

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Limestone outcroppings at outskirts of the city with secondary growth 

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