Spotted munia

Lonchura punctulata

SUBFAMILY Lonchurinae

TAXONOMY

Loxia punctulata Linnaeus, 1758. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Scaly-breasted munia/mannikin/finch, barred munia, spice finch/bird, ricebird, nutmeg mannikin/finch, spotted mannikin, common munia; French: Capucin damier; German: Muskatamadine; Spanish: Capuchino Nutmeg.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

3.9-4.7 in (10-12 cm). Sexes alike with juveniles a paler brown and lacking the scaled pattern on the underparts.

DISTRIBUTION

India, southern China, and Southeast Asia including parts of Malaysia and Indonesia. Populations introduced in Australia, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Japan, and the Seychelles.

HABITAT

Inhabits open or semi-open habitats including cultivated and inhabited areas, parks and gardens, grassland, rice fields, and forest edges.

BEHAVIOR

Found in large sometimes mixed-species flocks. The call is a repeated "kitty-kitty-kitty." The soft song is a "klik-klik-klik" followed by a series of whistles and ending with a "weeee," although it can be highly variable.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Feeds on grass seeds, including rice, both on the ground and on live plants. There are several reports of birds feeding on flattened roadkills, possibly as a source of minerals from bones. This species also feeds in human trash dumps taking scraps of bread and other food.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

As many as several hundred round nests of grass and bark can comprise a breeding colony. Three to seven white eggs are incubated for 14 days.

CONSERVATION STATUS Not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

This species is commonly kept and bred in captivity where it is known as the spice finch. Large numbers are caught for the pet trade, with no noticeable impact on population numbers except in Vietnam and Southeast Asia where the species is also caught in large numbers for human consumption and Buddhist religious purposes. ♦

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