Anatomy of a munia’s nest

on 18th April 2008


Tan Teo Seng brought me an abandoned bird nest from his fruit farm in Kota Tinggi, Johor recently. Measuring 300 x 130 mm, it is firmly lodged between the narrow forking twigs of a jambu (Syzygium sp.) plant that grew around the farm (above).

When examined closely, it was found to be made up of two components (below).

The nest itself is an oval structure, 80 x 60 mm, with a small round opening of 35 mm diameter near the top (above, below right). Overhanging the opening is a porch, not very prominent and slightly downward pointing.


The nest has a small oval chamber of 80 x 60 mm that is placed slightly higher, such that the upper roof is 60 mm thick while the base is 80 mm thick (below).

This oval nest sits smugly on a mass of leafy materials that fill up the narrowing end of the slender branches making up the fork (above left).


The external nest is made of mainly dried bamboo leaves, interspersed with slender grass stems and inflorescence branches, like Panicum sp. The porch is of mainly grass inflorescence branches.

Field ornithologist Wang Luan Keng identified it as a nest of a munia. I checked with Wells (2007) and the closest fit is that of White-rumped Munia (Lonchura striata). However, Restall (1996) describes the entrance to the nest as “low down on one side…” versus “end entrance” in Wells as well as in the collected specimen. Both authors do not mention that the nest is made up of two components.

YC Wee & Tan Teo Seng
April 2008

Restall, R. (1996). Munias and mannikins. East Sussex: Pica Press.
2. Wells, D.R. (2007). The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. II, Passerines. Christopher Helm, London.

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YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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5 responses

  1. Thanks for the confirmation, Weng Chun. The porch does not show properly in the images. It consists of a few wispy strands of inflorescence branches jutting out of the nest entrance.

  2. Pingback: anatomy references

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