Francis Yap videoed what he thought to be Javan Munias (Lonchura leucogastroides) at the Singapore Botanic Gardens in April 2011. “This sighting was a fluke. I wasn’t expecting to find munias in the SBG, as tall grass patches are somewhat lacking there. But chanced upon these birds, and thought throughout my shoot that they were Javan Munias. Here’s a link to a short video of these birds. They really don’t keep still!”
Images of the bird were sent to Haniman Boniran who identified the birds as the Black-and-white Mannikin (Lonchura bicolor). “…I saw this bird about two weeks ago at a local bird shop and I’m more or less anticipating your finding,” wrote Haniman. “This is the Black-and-white Mannikin. However this is the subspecies (L. b. nigriceps) as the barrings on the flanks are more spotted than the nominate species. This is also an African species like the previous Cut-throat Finch (Amadina fasciata) you discovered. But they are not sexually dichromatic like the cut throats. They originate from Guinea-Bissau east to Somalia and south to northern Angola and Tanzania.
“This species favours open grasslands and edges of cultivation. It would be interesting to know if they ever forage in a mix species flock now that several species have found its way there. I would consider them properly established if nest and chicks have been spotted and nestlings completely fledged. Keep the photos coming. I’m impressed with your skills to spot and capture these quick ball of feathers in the dense tall grass.”
According to Francis, “Apparently they was a report of them at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve on 10 March 2011. One bird was caught during their ringing activities. I managed to ID them earlier based on this sighting. Some confusion over their names. They are also referred to as Black-and-white Munia. Some author decide to split this sub-species to a full-blown species, Brown-backed Munia/Mannikin (Lonchura nigriceps).”
Restall (1996) has this to say: “Munias, or Mannikins? It is the convention to refer to some of the African and all of the New Guinea species as mannikins, and most of the Asian ones as munias. In this book I follow this usage although it is difficult to avoid regarding the two terms as being interchangeable, and both are English synonyms for the scientific Lonchura.”
Francis Yap & Haniman Boniran
Restall, R. (1996). Munias and mannikins. East Sussex: Pica Press.