Scaly-breasted Munia feeding on green alga

posted in: Feeding-plants | 16

The earlier post on the Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata) feasting on casuarina seeds mentioned another food, the green alga Spyogyra that grows in stagnant or slow-moving, relatively unpolluted water. An image of the alga under the microscope can be seen HERE.

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS was kind enough to send his composite image taken on 7th September 2009 at an abandoned swampy grassland in Ipoh, Malaysia. The image shows the munia in the act of poking its head into the water, picking up the algal strands and eating them.

According to Avery (1980), “Apparently Sharp-tailed Munias (Lonchura striata) eat Spirogyra as a source of protein to enable them to become physiologically ready for breeding….” This probably also applies to the Scaly-breasted Munia.

Avery, M. L. 1980. Diet and breeding seasonality among a population of sharp-tailed munias, Lonchura striata, in Malaysia. The Auk 97: 160-166.

16 Responses

  1. Wendy

    Hi there;
    A young scaly breasted munia was found on the ground. It had fallen off the nest and the nest was destroyed.

    How to hand feed a munia chick? and what sort of suitable food for it?

  2. YC

    The best thing to do is to put it in an open box near the nest and away from stray cats and dogs. Allow the parents to feed it as they will always be around. Hand raising the chick seldom results in fledgling and if it does, the juvenile will invariable be predated. Although munias feed on seeds, chicks need protein when developing. You can try feeding it with small insects or even smashed fish/minced pork – hopefully it will take it. Frankly I have no experience with munia chicks.

  3. Wendy

    Hi Dr Wee;
    Thank you for your reply.
    Yup, I dug a worm out and tried hand feeding it but failed.
    We decided to return to a nest, whichever nest. There were a few nests on the date palm tree. We managed to get a ladder and we put the chick in one of the nests. That nest was empty. Then the chick came out and there were two adults calling on this chick from the topmost nest. So, i guess that they were the parents. The adults were flying up and down trying to call the chick to fly up. The chick was making her way up then she got exhausted and decided to stay put.

    We got the ladder again and I climbed up higher to place the chick on the highest nest. As i touched the nest, 2 flew out. We went catching the other two chicks and placed them back. Finally, the chick (little Jane) was on the topmost nest. Good luck to her too.

    Thanks for the reply.

  4. Wendy

    Hi again;
    2 days later. That chick fell off the nest and was found this morning.

    We placed it on one of the branches and this time it is a different tree with a few munia nests on that tree. An adult munia was coaxing the chick to fly up. That chick did, very slowly. At some point, the adult munia was seen feeding the chick on the branch. I had no camera with me capturing the moment… aiiieee!

    As at now, the young chick is perched on a higher branch, looking exhausted and still trying to reach a nest.

  5. Kumari

    Hi, need help

    My son found a baby Yellow-bellied Prinia in our neighbourhood park a few days ago and I have been having a hard time as the bird keeps tweeting a lot. Could be due to hunger. I bought mealworms and even feed it with fruits which I blended to make it fine but still it keeps making noise. It only stop for a short second after feeding and if I talk to it. Could you please help as I intend to give it away but would like someone to really take good care of it cause the days with the baby has someone made me attached to it.


  6. YC

    As mentioned above, it is not a good idea to pick up a fallen chick and bring it home to look after. Besides it needing constant care, you are not able to teach it to forage, evade predators, etc when and should it fledge. However, now that you end up with the chick, you need to feed it all the time. It is growing fast and needs to be fed constantly. This is what the parents do. Good luck in your search of someone who can care for it.

  7. Pixie Chow

    I can help to look after the poor baby Prinia.
    It must be very hungry
    It needs to be fed several times a day with a well balanced baby food.
    I hope I am not too late

    Please email me at

  8. Kumari

    Hi Pixie

    Are you a bird lover as I only wants to give to someone who can really take care of it as I brought it to the park today and it seems to be so attached and refuse to let go of my hands. It is growing fast. any suggestion on what to feed the bird before I find a pet lover.


  9. Pixie

    Yes I am
    I have some experience in taking of abandoned baby birds.
    I am not interested in having it as a pet but wanted to ensure that it is properly fed as a baby.

    Before they fledge baby birds should be fed a well balanced baby bird food. I have good success with Exact baby bird food.
    You can get it from Goodwill at Serangoon. You must follow the instructions carefully and disinfect your feeding instruments after every feed. Keep the baby warm all the time with a lamp

    After they fledge they must be slowly weaned and introduced to the food that they eat in the wild. For prinias I believe it is insects and worms.

    Please do not release the baby prinia in the park before it fledges as it will surely die as it will be unable to forage for food and keep warm and safe.

    After it fledges you must teach it to forage for food.
    This is difficult and I think very few hand raised babies will survive in the wild.

    I know some would disagree but I feel that it would be better to give the baby prinia to Jurong Bird Park where it would have a big place to fly and would be well taken care of than to someone as a pet or to release it without the proper training in foraging and evading predators.

  10. Wendy

    Latest update on that scaly breasted munia chick.

    Found dead this evening in a pool of rainwater under the date palm tree.

    Rest in peace, birdie… 🙁

  11. KUMARI

    Hi Pixie

    Sorry for the late reply, I am really sad to tell you that the bird died on Friday. My hubby actually decided to let me keep it after seeing how attached I was with the baby. We actually went to the bird shop with it and bought the cage and food for the baby and was briefed on how to take care of the baby. I was very very upset and broke down and kept holding it for 30 mins, refusing to believe that it actually died. We buried it in our neighbourhood park on Saturday. Thanks for your reply.


    • YC Wee

      Spirogyra is a freshwater green algae. The algae at Bali, if intertidal (and thus marine), cannot be Spirogyra. Needs microscopic examination to attempt any identification.

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