The scaly-breasted munia (Lonchura punctulata), also known as the nutmeg mannikin or spice finch, is a small bird with a very distinctive appearance. It has a bright cinnamon head and neck, with duller brown plumage on the back and wings. The underside of the scaly-breasted munia is mainly white, although each feather on the breast has a brown edge, creating the scale-like pattern for which this species is named (2). The pointed tail is a yellowish-brown (3).
Male and female scaly-breasted munias are similar in appearance (2), and the juvenile is cinnamon on the upperparts and paler on the underparts (4).
Being a highly sociable bird, the scaly-breasted munia is usually found in small groups, which sometimes include other species of the genusLonchura. The diet of the scaly-breasted munia comprises mainly seeds, and this species spends much of its time foraging off the ground. It also takes seeds directly from plants such as rice during the harvest season, when the kernels are maturing (2).
Typically, Lonchura species build dome-shaped nests (7). Pairs of scaly-breasted munias will build nests from grass, straw and bamboo leaves. The nests can be found in bushes and usually contain four to seven eggs (2). Species within the Lonchuragenus usually incubate their eggs for 15 to 18 days, and once hatched, the chicks grow rapidly and are fully independent within a few months (7).
The scaly-breasted munia is a highly adaptable bird. Although traditionally found in grassland and scrub, this species also thrives in farmland and gardens on the edge of urban areas (2)(5). It can be found at elevations of up to 2,200 metres (5).
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
To keep eggs warm so that development is possible.
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