White-headed Munia feeding on ‘dung’

on 20th June 2017
White-headed Munia feeding on cow dung
White-headed Munia feeding on cow dung

“I came across 6-7 White-headed Munia (Lonchura maja) feeding on cow dung. The dung patches were mostly dry and crusted on a gravel road, and they were pulling pieces out of it. I have seen other birds explore cow dung but not munia.

White-headed Munia feeding on cow dung
White-headed Munia feeding on cow dung

“Initially my opinion was that they were looking for seeds in the dung. Harrison (1999) in ‘A Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka’ does mention of some species of munia that ‘feeds on seeds, even picking through dung’.

White-headed Munia feeding on cow dung
White-headed Munia feeding on cow dung

“Later in the morning at another site, half across the city I met up with another 3 White-headed Munias, this time exploring dog dung. I doubt dog seat grass seeds.

White-headed Munia feeding on dog dung
White-headed Munias feeding on dog dung

“I have now considered other possibilities.

“At both sites there was an abundance of seeds all around in the environment. I have previously reported Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata) feeding on green alga (Spirogyra sp.) as a source of protein to enable them to become physiologically ready for breeding LINK.

“I wonder of the White-headed Munia are feeding on something in the dung that aids with breeding? Otherwise it’s like Luwak coffee which improves after passing through Common Palm Civet (Paradoxurus hermaphroditus) dung LINK. Perhaps seeds taste better in animal dung.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
26th May 2017

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Outskirts of the city, urban environment

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

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.

Other posts by YC Wee

2 Responses

  1. Hi Amar,

    In 2015 I posted an article, “Scaly Munis Eats canine Excreta at Sepilok N.Borneo”.

    Your posting suggests probably other Munia species doing similar except such observations went un- noticed except to keen eyes like yourself.

    Growing up in surroundings of a dog loving family, it was observed dogs chew and swallow grass when unwell to induce a vomit. Seeds if any in their pickings and ingested likely to be coincidental.

    Awaiting the return of my laptop -gone for ‘cardiac transplant”.
    Please excuse the silence to do more contribution.


  2. Dear Daisy
    At no time did I suggest that these were observations unique to myself, having also quoted other observers, or due to an prowess on my part. I was merely describing my observation & suggesting possibilities for the behaviour.
    I appreciate your comment on dogs & grass and have also seen them do the same.

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