NUTMEG MANNIKIN (Lonchura punctulata) – (See images below)
DESCRIPTION: The Nutmeg Mannikin is a small finch with a large conical dark grey bill. In the adult male the head is brown, the back is lighter brown, and the breast is white with the feathers edged in brown, giving it a scaly pattern. The legs and feet are grey. Juveniles are brown overall with washed out brown undersides. Their bill is almost black. Sexes are similar. The bird is around 4.5 inches (11 cm) long.
NAME: The Nutmeg Mannikin is a pet trade name for this bird. Among other names, it is also called ‘Scaly-breasted Munia’, owing to the particular color pattern of its breast. The name ‘Mannikin’ means a small figure. The Latin genus name ‘Lonchura’ is from ancient Greek and refers to the birds’s pointed tail. The Latin species name ‘punctulata’ means ‘marked with spots’, in reference to the bird’s breast pattern.
HABITAT: Fields, mountain forests.
DIET: Its large bill indicates a seed diet, including grown grain such as rice. This means that it can inflict serious crop damage.
NESTING: The nest is a dome-shaped structure built in shrubs or trees, and is made of grass or bamboo material. Between four and seven white eggs are laid.
DISTRIBUTION: The native range of this bird is southeast Asia, but it has been introduced in several other parts of the world, notably in Hawaii around 1865.
CONSERVATION: This species of finch is abundant in its native range and expanding its population where introduced. It is of ‘least concern’, and might turn into a pest in some agricultural areas, hence another name for the bird – ‘ricebird’.
NOTES: The Nutmeg Mannikin is a popular cage bird. Some escapees have established populations in the southern USA and the Caribbean.

Nutmeg Mannikin – Diamond Head trail, Oahu, HI – © Denise Motard
Nutmeg mannikin, Diamond Head trail
Nutmeg Mannikins foraging – Diamond Head trail, Oahu, HI – © Denise Motard
Nutmeg mannikins foraging, Oahu
Nutmeg Mannikin juvenile, back view – Diamond Head trail, Oahu – © Denise Motard
Nutmeg mannikin back view, Oahu