Green avadavat (Amandava formosa)

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Green avadavat perched on branch
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Green avadavat fact file

Green avadavat description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyEstrildidae
GenusAmandava (1)

A small bird endemic to India, the green avadavat (Amandava formosa) is named for its light olive-green to green-yellow upperparts and wings. It has a pale yellow throat and chest, becoming bright yellow lower on the belly (3) (5), and its flanks are barred black and white (2) (3) (5), with the feathers sometimes tipped with yellow (5). The green avadavat’s black tail is short and slightly rounded (3) (5).

The bill of the green avadavat is short and pointed and is a distinctive bright red (2) (3) (5). The eyes of this species are dark brown, and its legs and feet are pinkish-brown (3) (5).

The female green avadavat is similar to the male in appearance, but is duller overall, tinged with ashy-grey or brownish above and paler below. The female also has more indistinct barring on the flanks (2) (3) (5). Juvenile green avadavats have a black rather than red beak, olive-brown wings, and no black barring on the flanks. The underparts of the juvenile are a dull buff colour, shading to an oily yellow lower on the abdomen (3) (5).

The song of the green avadavat is a high-pitched warble, with a long trill to finish, while its other calls include weak ‘see’ and ‘swee’ notes (2) (3).

Also known as
green munia, green strawberry finch, green tiger finch, green wax-bill.
Synonyms
Estrilda formosa, Fringilla formosa, Stictospiza formosa.
Size
Length: 10 cm (2) (3)
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Green avadavat biology

The green avadavat, like other members of the Estrildidae finch family (7), is likely to feed mainly on grass seeds and occasionally insects (6). As in other finches, the shape of its bill, being short and thick, has evolved to allow it to specialise in eating seeds (7).

This species has been recorded breeding between May and January (2) (6). It typically builds its nest from coarse grasses within sugarcanes, sometimes incorporating the leaves of the sugarcane into the nest (5). The nest of the green avadavat is usually globular in shape and is lined with finer grasses (6). The female lays a clutch of 5 or 6 eggs (6), which are likely to be incubated for around 11 to 18 days (7). Once hatched, the chicks may remain in the nest for 16 to 25 days (7). Both the male and female green avadavat help in incubating the eggs and feeding and raising the young (6) (7).

The green avadavat is a sociable bird and nests in small colonies (2) (6).

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Green avadavat range

The green avadavat is endemic to central India (2) (3) (6), ranging from southern Rajasthan to central Uttar Pradesh, southern Bihar and possibly West Bengal, south to southern Maharashtra and northern Andhra Pradesh (2) (6). There is a reasonable population on Mount Abu in Rajasthan, where this species is locally common (2).

Records of green avadavats from Kerala in India and from Lahore in Pakistan are believed to be escaped cage birds (2) (6).

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Green avadavat habitat

The green avadavat prefers grasslands, scrublands, sugarcane fields, shrubby forest and boulder-strewn scrub jungle, often near water, in the foothills and lowlands of India (2) (3) (6). It has also been recorded in stony, arid wasteland (2) (6).

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Green avadavat status

The green avadavat is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1) and is listed on Appendix II of CITES (4).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Green avadavat threats

The decline of the green avadavat is mainly due to the cage bird trade. Up to 2,000 green avadavats have sometimes been found in markets in central India, and at least 2,000 to 3,000 are smuggled out of India to Europe and America every year (2) (6). This trade has been going on since the late 1800s, but trapping for the trade has eliminated several populations and is believed to pose the greatest threat to this species, contributing to a rapid and ongoing population decline (2) (6). This is reflected in the fact that trappers are reporting that the green avadavat is becoming increasingly difficult to capture (2) (6).

Unfortunately, mortality rates are high among trapped birds as this species suffers from stress in captivity (2). The total numbers trapped are therefore likely to exceed those seen in markets (6). In the mountains of Rajasthan, local tribes also kill green avadavats as they believe that they have some medicinal properties (2) (8).

Some of the decline in the green avadavat is also due to habitat loss. An increase in the amount of land used as farmland, together with the use of pesticides and insecticides, has led to the destruction of this species’ lowland habitats (2) (6). In addition, green avadavat populations may be affected by fires (2), while tourist developments and illegal land clearance also threaten its populations in some areas (8).

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Green avadavat conservation

The green avadavat is protected under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that international trade in this bird should be carefully controlled (4). It is also legally protected in India under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, and trapping and trade of green avadavats has been banned since 1981 (2) (6). This species is known to occur in a number of protected areas (2) (6).

Despite this protection, green avadavats are still being caught and sold. Wildlife trade laws in India are often poorly enforced, and some trappers may not even be aware that what they are doing is illegal. An initiative of WWF and the IUCN, known as ‘TRAFFIC’, is monitoring the illegal trade in wildlife, and aims to work with both local and national governments to prevent illegal trade in protected species (9).

Trade in the green avadavat should be more closely monitored and controlled. It has been suggested that this species should be upgraded to CITES Appendix I and to Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, and these measures may go some way towards preventing a further decline in the green avadavat population (2) (6).

Other recommended conservation measures for the green avadavat include communicating with trappers to discover the location of remaining populations, as well as further field studies to better understand this species’ exact numbers and distribution (2). Relatively little is currently known about the green avadavat, so studies into its habitat requirements and the impacts of habitat degradation and trapping are needed (2) (6). Efforts should also be made to protect the habitat of this species (8).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

Find out more about the green avadavat and its conservation:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

This species information was authored as part of the ARKive and Universities Scheme.
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Glossary

Endemic
A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
Incubate
To keep eggs warm so that development is possible.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. BirdLife International - Green avadavat (November, 2011)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=8664
  3. Clement, P., Harris, A. and Davis, J. (1993) Finches and Sparrows: An Identification Guide. Christopher Helm, London.
  4. CITES (November, 2011)
    http://www.cites.org/
  5. Baker, E.C.S. (1926) The Fauna of British India. Birds Volume 3. Taylor and Francis, London.
  6. BirdLife International. (2001) Threatened Birds of Asia: The BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, UK. Available at:
    https://www.globalconservation.info/rudy/index.html
  7. Perrins, C. (2009) The Encyclopedia of Birds. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  8. Mehra, S.P., Sharma, S. and Mathur, R. (2005) Munias of Mt. Abu (Rajasthan, India) with special emphasis on threatened green munia Amandava formosa. Indian Birds, 1(4): 77-79.
  9. WWF India - Illegal wildlife trade in India (November, 2011)
    http://www.wwfindia.org/about_wwf/enablers/traffic/illegal_wildlife_trade_in_india/
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Green avadavat perched on branch  
Green avadavat perched on branch

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