A small utopia. Everyone cramming into one nest together until you are sure they'll need the jaws of life to get back out. What finch is more social and tolerant of not only its own species but other species as well? That's right, the Society Finch (aka The Bangalese). I have yet to meet an aggressive Society finch, in fact most society finches who do encounter an aggressive species of finch will back down without a fight and do their best to stay away from that bird. They are fantastic little birds which do well in a cage or a mixed flight providing they don't get over crowded.
Society finches have come a long way. Further than most other domestic finches. Societies are the epitome of domestication. Their scientific name is Lonchura domestica which literally means long domestic. Hence they have been domesticated for a long time. So long in fact that people can't seem to agree on where they came from. There are no Society Finches in the wild anywhere, they are a totally domestic species.
Many people have argued that the species was created with the careful hybridization (inter-species breeding) of the Striated Finch and the Indian Silverbill. This could very well be true. We may never know, but cross breedings with different species often doesn't go so well and rarely produces a fertile offspring. Another, slightly more plausible idea is that the Society are simply a domestic version of the Striated Finch (White-rumped Mannikin - Lonchura striata). They do share some physical and behavioral features with the Society finch where as the Silverbill doesn't. No matter where they came from or who developed them, they are fascinating little birds.
Societies were once known as 'little brown birds', but after years of breeding and mutations we now have a startling array of colors available. The Most commonly found are Pied; or brown and white & cream and white. We've managed to lighten their colors to produce, dilutes, fawns, white, clear wing and inos. The darker colors include chestnut, chocolate, grey, and black. There are even albino Society finches and Crested Society finches. Societies are found in Pied form and Self. Self means they are pure and solid in color (not literally solid color but they have no white anyplace they aren't supposed to). Pieds, of course, are like pieds of other finch mutations, they have white all over the place.
Because of their social behavior Societies have been used as foster parents for all sorts of finch species throughout the world. Most commonly they are used to raise tossed or abandoned Gouldian finches but they have also been used on other finch species which are about the same size. Not all society finches make great foster birds but many will try. If you do manage to get a pair that will sit on and feed anything, hang on to them. They may prove very valuable to you in the future. Surprisingly a pair of males will be even more devoted foster birds than a male/female pair. Male/female pairings will want to breed and raise their own young as well. Same sex pairs will have to settle with whatever you give them.
Sexing a Society finch isn't easy. The males and females look like. Yes I've heard people say, well the females have more white on the head than the males. Perhaps in their flock it's true, but it's not a species wide rule. Males will sing and dance and court the females; watching for this is the best way to determine their sex. Females will, no doubt, be the ones who lay the eggs. :)