The Java sparrow is in my mind a true beauty, unrivalled in the finch world. Yes there are some absolutely stunning varieties of birds in terms of their colours and behaviours. In fact if you were to describe a Java to someone who had never seen one before, with the exception of the bright red beak you would forgive them for not getting too excited.
It is not until you see the bird up close that you can really appreciate its appeal. The immaculate, velvet like texture of its feathering, the crisp white cheeks, the proud way the cock birds stand to attention on the perch or displays to a female. Yes it really is a stunning bird and yes there are some really exceptional mutations in White, Silver, Fawn and more. However, in my opinion you will never improve upon the Normal Grey type and that is why I continue on my quest to ensure my Normal’s are as pure as I can make them, with no hidden colours appearing through the generations.
My goal, therefore, is to become self sufficient with my stock and for the vast majority of the time only use my own bred birds. This idea is still in its infancy as I am building up my stock, but any identification of a bird carrying any hidden colour is either passed on to another breeder who requires a split bird or is removed from my Normal programme. Alongside this it is vital that the quality of the birds and their overall health is kept to the highest standards, this means I need to maintain a strong diverse gene pool, which will I know need additional birds from other breeders in the future. Care will need to continue to be taken in case these birds are carrying another colour.
In terms of the birds themselves, I am looking to maintain that sleek appearance which is so endearing but also have good sized and strong birds. The markings I feel are vital to ensure the ‘perfect’ look of the bird is maintained. The markings around the white cheeks therefore should not be broken. I am trying to improve my birds gradually by focusing on thick black neck markings to ensure I can eradicate thin or broken lines in this area.
Last year I purchased further birds from Steve Nesbitt, who had provided me with my first Java’s a couple of years ago. I explained to Steve what I wanted in the birds and one in particular really stood out with thick black markings. This cock bird fathered 5 lovely chicks this year and you can see in the picture below the distinctive thick marking (Fig 1). I have also provided a picture of one of my other young from this year to compare (Fig 2). Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying there is anything wrong with thinner neck markings, in fact there is much more to the Java than just this, I just want to get the best quality in terms of what I like. I like to show my birds occasionally and love it when the birds do well, but this is not my motivation for keeping this special bird, so I am not saying this is what the judges are looking for, it is just my idea to further improve my Java’s.
Fig 1 Fig 2
I have also noticed with some of the Fawns, that they are paler than perhaps they were some years ago. There do seem to be two distinct types where one is much darker brown in its head markings. Currently this is the only other type of Java keep and I am looking to build up a strong strain with darker heads. This year my goal was to simply strengthen the birds, so I have bred Fawns to strong Normal’s and now have a group of lovely looking Normal’s split for Fawn. Next year will see me starting to produce my own Fawn’s; again I will need to be patient if I am to achieve the high quality I am looking for. Once I have a nice stock of Fawns, however, I can then look to further enhance their markings as I am with my Normal’s. One of the great things about the JSSUK is the willingness of members to swap birds and help each other to improve our own stocks, long may it continue.
But can you improve on perfection? Well in theory you can’t but it is in our nature to constantly strive to make each year’s birds better than the last by pairing our best cocks to our best hens be it for size, feathering or markings.