Scaly-breasted munia -- 斑文鸟 (Lonchura punctulata)

Scaly-breasted munia perched on branch
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Scaly-breasted munia fact file

Scaly-breasted munia description

GenusLonchura (1)

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).

Also known as
Nutmeg mannikin, nutmeg mannikini, spice finch.
Spermète d'épices.
Length: 12 cm (2)

Scaly-breasted munia biology

Being a highly sociable bird, the scaly-breasted munia is usually found in small groups, which sometimes include other species of the genus Lonchura. 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 Lonchura genus 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).


Scaly-breasted munia range

Native across almost all of southern Asia, the scaly-breasted munia ranges from Indonesia in the east to Afghanistan in the west (5). These birds are also found as far north as Nepal (6).

The scaly-breasted munia has been widely introduced in many other countries, including parts of Central and North America and Australia (6), due to its popularity as a cage bird (7).


Scaly-breasted munia habitat

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).


Scaly-breasted munia status

The scaly-breasted munia is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern


Scaly-breasted munia threats

There are currently no known threats to the scaly-breasted munia (6).


Scaly-breasted munia conservation

There are no specific conservation methods currently in place for the scaly-breasted munia (6).

Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

Find out more about the scaly-breasted munia:



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:

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


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.


  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2010)
  2. Koepff, C. and Romagnano, A. (2001) The Finch Handbook. Barron’s Educational Series, New York.
  3. Harrison, J. (2011) A Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. Raffaele, H., Wiley, J., Garrido, O., Keith, A. and Raffaele, J. (2003) Birds of the West Indies. Princeton University Press, New Jersey.
  5. Sibley, C.G. and Monroe Jr, B.L. (1990) Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut.
  6. Birdlife International (November, 2010)
  7. Burton, M. and Burton, R. (2002) International Wildlife Encyclopedia. Marshall Cavendish, New York.

Image credit

Scaly-breasted munia perched on branch  
Scaly-breasted munia perched on branch

© Krupaker Senani /

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