Taken from: Cassells  Illustrated Book of Canaries and Cage Birds 1878 Edition
                                                                         This article written by A.F. Wiener F.Z.S.                                
                                                                      SHARP-TAILED FINCH (Munia  acuticauda) INDIA.
                                              No English dealer’s name. German name-“Spitzschwanzige Bronze Amandine”
The Striated and the Sharp-tailed Finch are both natives of India Southern China and Japan. Both birds are so very similar that amateur can fairly consider them as one species, the more so as our interest in this finch is chiefly concerned with his progeny, bred in captivity by the Japanese. These little birds are a trifle larger than a Bronze Manakin, but brown on the back. The head is nearly black, the lower body dull white. The shaft of each brown feather being white, the plumage appears striated-hence the name. The beak is bluish-black. The feet are dark grey. Male and female are alike. An unpretending amiable little bird in the aviary, sometimes-but not often-obtainable, and easily kept if fed like the Waxbills.
Keeping and breeding cage-birds as a pastime or for sale has been practised longer in Japan than in any other part of the world, whilst our forefathers in Europe began to breed cage-birds only three hundred years ago. The Japanese living three thousand years ago knew quite well how to bred birds in cages as we do now. Whether it was originally the Striated or Sharp-tailed Finch from which the Japanese bred the White Bengalese has not been ascertained and perhaps never will be determined.
That it was one of the two is certain. We see the singular results of a bred of perfectly white or mottled little birds being regularly produced, descended from Brown Striated or Sharp-tailed ancestors- another example of how birds through cage breeding may change their colours in the same way as  our old friend the Canary has done. Breeding these little white finches has certainly been practised for centuries in Japan. When and how the change in colour was bought about is not known, but the birds may and should be considered as a distinct variety, for they are as different from their ancestors as the Norwich Canary is from his forefather of the Canary Islands. The new species or white variety of the Striated Finch, is called
                                                                                  THE WHITE AND VARIEGATED BENGALESE
                                                                               (Munia acuticanda[?], (Munia striata [?]) JAPAN
                                                      English dealer’s name- White Bengalese, German name- “Japanesische Movchen”
                                                                              French name-“Muscades Blanches” “Bengalis Blancs”
The Zoological Society appears to have purchased two specimens of the White Japanese variety of Munia striata in October, 1860. I do not remember to have met with any White Bengalese before 1869 or 1870, when I purchased, from a London dealer, the first birds of the kind I had seen.
In 1871 a number of White and Variegated Bengalese were offered to amateurs by the Zoological Gardens in Antwerp, and since that time these birds have been offered for sale in increasing numbers, so that latterly they are rarely absent from a well-stocked retail bird-dealers shop.
The white variety of Japanese Manakin must not be considered as an albino or Insus naturae as the White Blackbird, for the bird has no red eyes, and his progeny is about as certain to be white as the yellow Canary’s offspring is certain to be yellow. By continuous cage-breeding carried on by the Japanese through many generations and during centuries, a naturally brown-black bird has become pure white, or brown and white piebald, or black and white piebald, The bill and feet of the Bengalese are pale pink, and this colour indicates as much as the plumage, the cage bred origin of the species, for the Striated Finch in his natural state has a bluish-black bill and dark grey feet.
When these little birds first appeared in the market they created quite a sensation which however soon wore out. The White or Piebald Manakin has been bred in small cages through so many generations that very few of the original habits and manners of their ancestors remain.
The first specimen I saw and possessed was believed by me to be partially blind, for the bird would allow me to handle him without stirring from the perch, and was peculiarly indifferent to the doings of the other small finches which inhabited the same cage. He would allow anyone of them to drive him from his chosen perch or from the food-dishes and did not live long, Since then I discovered that what seemed like partial blindness was only helplessness, Subsequently acquired Piebald Manikins I allowed to fly in a large aviary, but they were completely bewildered.
Through being bred by the Japanese in miniature cages the imported White and Piebald Manakins seem to be almost unable to fly, and consequently they are nearly helpless in a large aviary as a young bird just leaving the nest. They tumble into the water, or hide in the corners, or get into all sorts of scrapes . It is therefore advisable to keep these birds, if not always, certainly for some time, in a roomy cage by themselves, and then they may please their owner by their docility and tameness.
They will readily build a sort of nest out of any suitable material in any nest-box or other receptacle, and they will, under favourable circumstances , prove wonderfully prolific.
The male bird is amusing, for he will take a piece of fibre in his bill and execute a peculiar sort of dance to please his sweetheart, whilst trying hard to sing a scarcely audible song.
When several Japanese Manakins are kept in one cage they will all sit at night, and a good part of the day, packed in one nest-box nearly as close as sardines are laid in a tin. Breeding , when several pairs use the same nest as a dormitory, is of course impossible. In an aviary these birds are apt to creep into other birds’ nests and thereby to destroy young broods. It is therefore advisable to keep each pair of Japanese Manakins in a cage by themselves. If once they begin to breed they will produce a very numerous progeny, and the young will breed again when four to six months old.
For nest building these birds will avail themselves of any material and any sheltered spot. To rear the young brood, millet and maw seed, both soaked in hot water and strained, should be given, besides either soaked or fresh ants eggs and egg-food.
If the birds are stimulated too much they are apt to degenerate in this way ; the old birds will build nest after nest, and lay eggs without number, not caring for the trouble of hatching them regularly, but sitting in the nests only for pleasure as many hours as it pleases them. A young bird bred by chance will inherit this undesirable habit , and the stock will become unfit for breeding purposes.
The best way to breed is to place one pair only of White Manakins in a London canary breeding-cage without nest-boxes or nesting materials, and feed them on millet and canary seed, with plenty of green food- that is chickweed and grass flower. When the birds are in as perfect plumage and condition as they can be, and when the weather is genial and warm, then begin feeding them with egg-food, ants eggs, fresh or dried or soaked, &c, and give them a nest-box and nesting materials. If the hen bird should prove one of those restless egg-layers, deficient in the natural instinct of sitting on and hatching the eggs, the best way is to get rid of her. There is not much difficulty in obtaining another female, and a hen bird which will prove a good sitter and a good mother will surely be found if patiently looked for.Thousands of these birds are now bred annually in Europe, and it is certain that through being kept in larger cages. And not being over-stimulated, a more bird-like bird than the imported Japanese Manakin will be produced. It should be stated that in the same nest may be found pure wgite and piebalds of various shades. The young should be removed from the breeding-cage as soon as they can feed themselves, because they will surely creep into the nest of the parent birds when these want to  sit again, and thus disturb the second sitting

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