Species group: Mannikins and Munias
Other common names: Black-headed Mannikin; Black-headed Nun; Black-hooded Nun
Scientific name: Lonchura atricapilla
The Chestnut Munia, affectionately known to many pet owners as the Black-headed or Black-hooded Nun, could be a good beginner's finch. However, males and females are much alike in appearance, so you need to watch for the male's display song and dance to the female, allowing you to sex your birds by behavior.
This highly social seed-eating bird will be found in open grasslands and cultivated fields. The species is a fairly recent split of a complicated group of small, closely related birds. It used to be considered a subspecies of the Tricolored Munia (L. malacca), and you will find older information on these birds under the old name Lonchura malacca atricapilla. However, the newer L. atricapilla species is itself a large group which includes 10 subspecies ranging over a wide area of Asia including the Indian subcontinent, China and Southeast Asian, and many Asian islands.
The Chestnut Munia is a striking Asian finch with a stout seed-cracking silver bill, black head and bib, and a deep chestnut brown body. It's a fairly recent split from the Tricolored Munia, although it isn't difficult to distinguish from the Tricolor, since the Chestnut Munia lacks the prominent white belly with a deep black belly patch.
20 grams (0.7 oz.)
11 - 12 centimeters (4.3 - 4.7 in.)
5 - 8 years
Behavior / temperament:
Any Chestnut Munia will become depressed if kept in a too-small cage or if asked to live alone. They are highly social, and they need access to a range of weaving materials to allow them to display their activities to best advantage. Because they're so easy-going, they can be used to create a colony breeding aviary, or they can fill in a mixed-species aviary. With the proper care, they can provide hours of entertainment.
Chestnut Munias exercise by flying rather than hopping or climbing, and they are happiest flying in their own territory. Many so-called finch cages are only suitable to serve as hospital or temporary homes for birds awaiting sale. The permanent home of a pair of Chestnut Munias should be 36” in length, 24” in width, and 18” in height, with ½” bar spacing. A larger flight would not be excessive. A variety of perches, swings, and even toys will keep them busy and allow them to provide you with endless action and entertainment. They love bathing, so have a bath available, or you may find them trying to splash in the drinking water.
It's possible and even advisable to house a flock of Chestnut Munias in a large colony flight to allow them to choose their own mates. They require a rather dense, heavily planted flight, including some clumps of bamboo, grasses, or reeds.
Watch out for a couple of issues if you keep the Chestnut Munias in a mixed species aviary. Do not house them with other Lonchura finches, because they could hybridize. Also, watch out that they are not pushed around because of their gentle nature. Busybody birds in the aviary could make them give up on a breeding attempt. If you are a serious breeder, consider holding the Chestnut Munia colony separate from other species.
The Chestnut Munia is easy to feed, although you should never expect this bird to subsist on dry seed alone. However, the backbone of the diet will be a small seed mix, so obtain the best quality you can afford. They love many varieties of millet, including spray millet. The seed should be fresh enough to sprout, and you should test it by sprouting it regularly. You should also supply a small chopped salad containing such items as chopped romaine, grated carrot, the fresh sprouts, chopped apple or grapes, and other dark greens such as chickweed or dandelion. Unlike some of the beginner's munias, the Chestnut Munia probably does need access to some live food, such as small mealworms or ant pupae, to stimulate breeding and supply protein. If nothing else, they should certainly be offered eggfood throughout courtship and breeding. All finches should have access to clean grit, as well as cuttlebone or another source of calcium.
Written by Elaine Radford
friendly species, Beautiful cheeping noises, great companions, human interaction
What I love about Gem, My Chestnut Munia
Since I was in 3rd Grade in Elementary, I used to take care of baby chestnut munias that fall from their nests every summer, this helped me experience the food that they prefer, usually, they say that these bird's diet comprises of only rice, so, I fed mine cooked rice, until my 5th Grade in Elementary. That is until I got Gem, I found her along with her three siblings in their nest that seems to have fallen from the tree, all he four of them are still too young to fly, perhaps 1 week from birth. I took them inside, made them a recycled cage made by a plastic jar without a cap, and cut one side of it, so it serves as the door, at first, I fed them cooked rice, but because that we ran out of cooked rice after 1 day,( and also it is hard to feed them with rice, because it is insufficient for their demand of nutrients) I substituted it with wet bread (to be moist, easily eaten by baby munias, in my opinion) after a week, one by one, Gem's siblings started to pass away, (because my sister keeps playing with them, but I always secure Gem well) so for a few days Gem was alone with me, until we found another baby chestnut munia that was almost mauled by our dog, so In short, Gen had 2 new room mates, the first one was the one that was almost mauled by our dog, Blue. The second one was also rescued by us when a light storm hit our area. Gem, when able to fly, I let her go in the morning before I go to school, then whistled at her every afteroon, We did this for 3 weeks, until a storm started at noon that day, and raged the whole night until morning the next day. I looked for Gem for 1 week, but she was nowhere to be found. After that, I believed that Chestnut Munias are able to be domesticated.
From GemLover Jun 11 2014 8:00AM
One of my favorite Finches!
These are one of my favorite finches, the other being the Cutthroat finch. These guys are seemingly more active than a lot of other breeds ive worked with and are much more curious and responsive to human interaction. Still, not easily handled! Beautiful cheeping noises, and relatively easy to care for. Make great companions and I enjoy keeping finches in my house in various rooms. Make sure you give them plenty of sprouted seeds! These are a VERY friendly species and get along with other birds, just please make sure not to put them with birds that may have aggression to other birds!.
From kittypryde Nov 21 2012 5:12PM