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Waxbills and Grassfinches: Estrildidae

Spotted Munia (lonchura Punctulata): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Spotted munias look alike with respect to males and females. They have big heads and large, conical bills, brown, scale-patterned feathers on a white breast and flanks, and a dusky brown face and throat. They also have plain brown upperparts and small grayish traces on rump. Juveniles have brown upperparts and buffy under parts, but do not have the scaled pattern on their under parts. Adults are 3.9 to 4.7 inches (10 to 12 centimeters) long.

Geographic range: They range from India, southern China, and Southeast Asia including parts of Malaysia and Indonesia. They have Spotted munias are often found in large flocks of birds with their own and other species. (Illustration by Joseph E. Trumpey. Reproduced by permission.) been introduced in Australia, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Japan, and the Seychelles.

Habitat: Spotted munias inhabit open or semi-open habitats including cultivated and inhabited areas, parks and gardens, rice fields, grasslands, and forest edges.

Diet: The birds eat grass seeds, especially rice, from off of the ground and on live plants. They also eat small berries. Sometimes, they eat dead animals along roadsides. When human trash dumps are available, they are seen removing scraps of food, such as bread, from the area.

Behavior and reproduction: Spotted munias are often found in large flocks of birds of various species. Their call is a series of repeated "kitty-kitty-kitty." Their wide variety of calls is used for keeping in contact with other birds or to express alarm. The soft song is a "klik-klik-klik" followed by a series of whistles and ending with a "weeee." The song has many variations. A breeding colony is often built consisting of hundreds of round nests of grass and tree bark. Females lay three to seven white eggs. The incubation period is about fourteen days.

Spotted munias and people: People often keep and breed spotted munias. Many are caught for eventual sale into the pet business.

Conservation status: Spotted munias are not threatened. There is no noticeable impact on its numbers with respect to many of its numbers being caught as pets, except for those in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, where they are also caught for human consumption and as part of religious ceremonies. ∎



del Hoyo, Josep, Andrew Elliott, Jordi Sargatal, Jose Cabot, et al., eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, 1992.

Dickinson, Edward C., ed. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, 3rd ed. Princeton, NJ and Oxford, U.K.: Princeton University Press, 2003.

Forshaw, Joseph, ed. Encyclopedia of Birds, 2nd ed. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1998.

Harrison, Colin James Oliver. Birds of the World. London and New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1993.

Perrins, Christopher M., and Alex L. A. Middleton, eds. The Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Facts on File, 1985.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsWaxbills and Grassfinches: Estrildidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Common Waxbill (estrilda Astrild): Species Accounts, Zebra Finch (taeniopygia Guttata): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, WEAVERFINCHES AND PEO