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Chestnut Munia - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies jagori
Photo © by Karim Madoya
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, 18 March 2005

Alternative names: Black-headed Munia; Southern Black-headed Munia; Chestnut Mannikin; Black-headed Mannikin

Lonchura atricapilla


11-12cm (4¼-4¾ in)

  • Chestnut brown body
  • Black head, nape and throat
  • Dark iris
  • Pale grey bill, legs and feet

Sexes similar

  • Pale brown above
  • Pale underparts

Similar Species

Photo © by Jason Bugay Reyes
Tuaran, Sabah, Borneo, 9 July 2010

Juvenile Scaly-breasted Munia has a black bill, not pale gray or blue-gray.


Asia: found in China, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Hong Kong
Southeast Asia: Indochina, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Borneo, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Greater Sundas, Sumatra, Java and Sulawesi. This species occurs as feral in several countries, for example Portugal and Hawaii.


Subspecies L. a. rubronigra : image taken in the Native Range
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Dist. Jhajjar, Haryana, India, 22 August 2019

This species has in the past been lumped with White-capped Munia. When further combined with Tricolored Munia it may be assigned to an expanded "Chestnut Munia" (L. malacca) [9].


Clements recognises the following subspecies [1]:

  • L. a. rubronigra: Northern India (Haryana to northern Bihar) and lowlands of Nepal
  • L. a. atricapilla: South-eastern Nepal and north-eastern India to Myanmar and north-western Yunnan
  • L. a. deignani: South-western China (south-western Yunnan) to Thailand, Laos and Vietnam
  • L. a. sinensis: Peninsula Thailand, Malaya, Sumatra, Riau Archipelago and Lingga Archipelago
  • L. a. batakana: Mountains of northern Sumatra
  • L. a. formosana: Taiwan and northern Philippines
  • L. a. jagori: Philippines, Sulu Islands, Palawan, Borneo, Sulawesi, Muna and Butung
  • L. a. obscura: Borneo (Sampit region of Kalimantan)
  • L. a. selimbauensis: Borneo (Pontianak region of western Kalimantan)
  • L. a. brunneiceps: Southern Sulawesi (Makassar district)

Subspecies rubronigra was recently transferred from Tricolored Munia to this species.

Cream-bellied Munia

Cream-bellied Munia (Lonchura pallidiventer) was described in 1996 based on a bird purchased in a bird market. Later studies indicates that this probably was a result of hybridization with the maternal individual a Chestnut Munia and the paternal individual unknown.


Open grassland, paddy fields and cultivation.



A large domed nest built from grass is placed in tall grass. The clutch consists of 4-7 white eggs.


The diet includes seeds and grain.


Soft contact call a clear "pee" or "peet"; loud contact call "pink!".


Resident, with local and altitudinal seasonal movements.


  1. Clements, J. F., P. C. Rasmussen, T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, A. Spencer, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2023. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2023. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. Wikipedia contributors. (2019, December 27). Chestnut munia. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 08:53, February 1, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Chestnut_munia&oldid=932699398
  4. Payne, R. B. & Sorenson, M.D. 2002. Museum Collections as Sources of Genetic Data. Bonner zoologische Beiträge 51(3):97-104 Paper describing DNA analysis of Cream-bellied Munia
  5. Clement, P., A. Harris, and J. Davis. 1993. Finches and Sparrows: An Identification Guide. Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, N. J.
  6. Payne, R. (2020). Chestnut Munia (Lonchura atricapilla). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/61195 on 28 January 2020).
  7. Pratt, H.D., Bruner, P., and Berrett, D.G. (1987) A Field Guide to the Birds of Hawaii and the Tropical Pacific. Princeton University Press.
  8. Pyle, R.L., and P. Pyle. 2017. The Birds of the Hawaiian Islands: Occurrence, History, Distribution, and Status. B.P. Bishop Museum, Honolulu, HI, U.S.A. Version 2 (1 January 2017) http://hbs.bishopmuseum.org/birds/rlp-monograph/
  9. Eaton, JA, B van Balen, NW Brickle, FE Rheindt 2021. Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago (Greater Sundas and Wallacea), Second Edition. Lynx Editions. ISBN978-84-16728-44-2

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