Lonchura is a genus of the estrildid finch family, and includes munias (or minias), mannikins, and silverbills. They are resident breeding birds in Africa and in South Asia from India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka east to Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and the Philippines. Two of the approximately thirty-seven species are also native to Australia. The name mannikin is from Middle Dutch mannekijn 'little man' (also the source of the different bird name manakin).
Some of the Lonchura species were formerly placed in Spermestes. Others have been placed in a genus of their own, Euodice.
The genus Lonchura was introduced by the English naturalist William Henry Sykes in 1832. The type species was subsequently designated as the scaly-breasted munia. The name Lonchura combines the Ancient Greek words lonkhē "spear-head" or "lance" with oura "tail".
They are small gregarious birds which feed mainly on seeds, usually in relatively open habitats, preferring to feed on the ground or on reeds of grasses. Several species have been noted to feed on algae such as Spirogyra.
The nest is a large domed grass structure into which four to ten white eggs are laid. Some species also build communal roosting nests for overnight rest.
The species in this genus are similar in size and structure, with stubby bills, stocky bodies and long tails. Most are 10–12 cm in length. Plumage is usually a combination of browns, black and white, with the sexes similar, but duller and less contrasted for immature birds.
The similarities within this group and the existence of subspecies with differing vocalisations and plumage mean that some races may be elevated to species status. African and Indian silverbill are now usually considered distinct species, and the two races of black-throated munia are often also split.
The munias are popular in the bird trade and many freed or escaped birds have formed feral colonies in different pockets across the world.
The red munia Amandava amandava and green munia Amandava formosa also take the name munia, but are in the genus Amandava.
The genus contains 35 species:
- Bronze mannikin, Lonchura cucullata also known as bronze munia
- Black-and-white mannikin, Lonchura bicolor also known as black-and-white munia
- Red-backed mannikin, Lonchura nigriceps also known as brown-backed munia
- Magpie mannikin, Lonchura fringilloides also known as magpie munia
- White-rumped munia, Lonchura striata
- Javan munia, Lonchura leucogastroides
- Dusky munia, Lonchura fuscans
- Black-faced munia, Lonchura molucca
- Scaly-breasted munia, Lonchura punctulata also known as nutmeg mannikin or spice finch
- Black-throated munia, Lonchura kelaarti also known as Jerdon's mannikin
- White-bellied munia, Lonchura leucogastra
- Streak-headed mannikin, Lonchura tristissima
- White-spotted mannikin, Lonchura leucosticta
- Five-colored munia, Lonchura quinticolor
- Tricolored munia, Lonchura malacca
- White-capped munia, Lonchura ferruginosa
- Chestnut munia, Lonchura atricapilla
- White-headed munia, Lonchura maja
- Pale-headed munia, Lonchura pallida
- Great-billed mannikin, Lonchura grandis
- Grey-banded mannikin, Lonchura vana
- Grey-headed mannikin, Lonchura caniceps
- Grey-crowned mannikin, Lonchura nevermanni
- Hooded mannikin, Lonchura spectabilis
- Forbes's mannikin, Lonchura forbesi
- Hunstein's mannikin, Lonchura hunsteini
- Yellow-rumped mannikin, Lonchura flaviprymna
- Chestnut-breasted mannikin, Lonchura castaneothorax
- Black mannikin, Lonchura stygia
- Black-breasted mannikin, Lonchura teerinki
- Eastern alpine mannikin, Lonchura monticola
- Western alpine mannikin, Lonchura montana
- Buff-bellied mannikin, Lonchura melaena
- Timor sparrow, Lonchura fuscata
- Java sparrow, Lonchura oryzivora
- ^ New Oxford American Dictionary (2nd ed., 2005), p. 1032.
- ^ Sykes, William Henry (1832). "Catalogue of birds of the raptorial and insessorial orders (systematically arranged,) observed in the Dukhun". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 2 (18): 77-99 .
- ^ Dickinson, E.C.; Christidis, L., eds. (2014). The Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 2: Passerines (4th ed.). Eastbourne, UK: Aves Press. p. 297. ISBN 978-0-9568611-2-2.
- ^ Jobling, J.A. (2018). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E., eds. "Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
- ^ Pillai, N. G. 1968 The green algae, Spirogyra sp., in the diet of the White-backed Munia, Lonchura striata (Linn.). J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 65: 490-491
- ^ Avery, Michael L. (1980) Diet and breeding seasonality among a population of sharp-tailed munias, Lonchura striata in Malaysia. The Auk 97(1):160-166
- ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2018). "Waxbills, parrotfinches, munias, whydahs, Olive Warbler, accentors, pipits". World Bird List Version 8.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
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