White-headed Munia

Save as favorite

Avg. Owner Satisfaction


(1 Reviews)


Is the White-headed Munia right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: White-headed Nun; White-headed Mannikin; White-hooded Nun; Maja Finch; Silver-headed Nun

Scientific name: Lonchura maja

The basics:
The White-headed Munia, known to many pet owners as the White-headed Nun, is a calm, attractive finch sometimes recommended to new finch keepers. They are peaceful and mix well with other species in a planted aviary, and they may be unusually long-lived for finches, as there's one report of a bird who lived for 18 years.

This highly social seed-eating finch hails from the marshes of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Southeast Asia. They can be regarded as an agricultural pest as they may forage in rice fields.

The White-headed Munia, as the name suggests, has a white head that contrasts nicely with its rich brown body. Older birds have more white on the head than younger birds, and males tend to have more white than females.

18 grams (0.6 oz.)

Average size:
11 - 12 centimeters (4.5 in.)

8 - 10 years

Behavior / temperament:
Any White-headed 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. A breeder from the U.K. has stated that his birds do well kept outdoors all year round, provided they are protected from wind and damp, so this species may be a bit more hardy than many Lonchura finches, something worth thinking about if you're planning an outdoor aviary.

White-Headed 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 White-headed 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 White-headed 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. They could be more nervous than the average Lonchura without sufficient cover.

Watch out for a couple of issues if you keep the White-headed 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 White-headed Munia colony separate from other species.

The White-headed 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. The White-headed Munia may not accept live food, such as small mealworms or ant pupae, so they should certainly be offered eggfood throughout courtship and breeding. All finches should have access to grit, as well as clean cuttlebone or another source of calcium.

Written by Elaine Radford

Member photos