The Bronze-Winged Mannikin

Bronze-Winged Mannikin8,11,13,21,23,31,34,35,37, 40,41
Lonchura cucullata
Photo by Francis Yap
Singing ability:Poor
Compatibility:Passive, mixes well with other passive species
[Compatibility Chart]
Size:3.5" (9 cm), among the smallest munias
Weight:About 7-8 grams
Approx. cost:$30-50 (US) per pair

Other common names

Bronze Mannikin, Bronze-shouldered Mannikin, Bronze-wing, Swainson's Bronze Mannikin, Hooded Finch, Hooded Weaver-Finch, Hooded Mannikin

  • L. c. cucullata
  • L. c. scutatus: East African Bronze Mannikin, Southern Bronze Mannikin

Alternative Latin name: Spermestes cucullata



Area of distribution

In Africa, south of the Sahara except for the southwest. Also found on the islands of Fernando Po, Principe, Sao Tome', Pemba, Zanzibar, Mafia, Comoros; introduced to Puerto Rico.



Active, vivacious, but may become sluggish if housed in a smaller enclosure. Generally gregarious, but can become dominating while breeding.

Physical descriptions

Black upper bill, silver lower bill; brownish black head with metallic green or purplish sheen; brownish black throat and upper breast; brown back & wings; shoulders sport a metallic green patch; flanks are mottled brown & white; black tail with brown-and-black cross-barred rump; white belly; dark grey or blackish legs. L. c. cucullata may also have some variable glossy green patches along the flanks which the L. c. scutata subspecies tends to lack. Juveniles have a black beak and are dark grey-brown with light grey-brown throat and breast, buff belly, brownish-buff flanks.

Possible mutation includes: fawn.


Sexes appear similar, though the hen may appear a little less glossy, browner above, and sport a narrower head with a beak that tapers more than the cock's. Only the male bird appears to show a courtship display where he erects his body (but not head or breast) fathers, presents himself in an upright posture to the female with his head pointed downward; he will then click his bill, open it widely, and sing, at intervals protruding and vibrating his tongue, bobbing up-and-down or pivoting side-to-side toward and away from, and sometimes in a circle around, the female, while keeping his tail pointed toward her. The female may respond by crouching and quivering her tail.


Song consists of a series of contact calls or quiet "purring."

Sound FileSong ClipExternal Site from Finch Stuff
Sound FileCalling NoisesExternal Site from Finch Stuff


If you keep this species and have a photo of your birds to share, please submit your photo for possible inclusion on this site! Credit will be given to you.

Photo by Francis Yap
Photo by Francis Yap.

Photo by Francis Yap
Photo by Francis Yap.

Photo by Francis Yap
Photo by Francis Yap.

Photo by Francis Yap
Juvenile and adults. Photo by Francis Yap.

Photo by Steve Riall
Photo by Steve Riall.

Photo by Steve Riall
Photo by Steve Riall.

Favorite foods

Small mixed millet, greens, egg food, mealworms, ant pupae, soaked seed.

Natural habitat

Savannahs & scrub, open woodland, forest edge, along rivers, marsh and swamp edges, cultivated areas, open clearings, farms & gardens.


Bronze-winged Mannikins live in flocks and family parties outside of the breeding season and may associate with other species of waxbill and mannikin. Allo-preening is common among birds on friendly terms. They eat grass seeds (from the genera Digitaria, Panicum, & Setaria), soft greens, & flying termites on the wing, and feed both on the ground & on plants. Birds may gather at a watering hole prior to roosting for the night. Individual families roost in brooding or "slovenly" roosting nests (which may be dismantled and rebuilt each afternoon). The cock tends to collect the nesting material while the hen tends to build the nest, often near active wasp nests (presumably for protection from predation). Nests are rounded and constructed of grass stems and blades, lined with fine grasses, vegetable down and fiber, hair and feathers, and built in small (3 to 10 feet tall) trees (mango & orange trees), although some pairs may make use of abandoned weavers' or waxbills' nests, bushes, shrubs, and niches in buildings. Families may build nests close together and share the same tree. Both cock and hen share incubation duties during the day, and both sit together in the nest at night. Young are reared on green (half-ripe) seeds, greens, and insects. After fledging, young are lead back to the nest each night to roost. An alerted or active bird may flick its tail from side-to-side and flick the wings up and down. Birds may try to 'escape' to a dark area and become motionless, attempting to hide.

Special considerations

Bronze-winged Mannikins prefer to live in groups of like species. Males may become aggressive toward each other and other species during the breeding season; fighting birds will fan out the wing that is further away from their enemy during spats.

Potential health problems include: overgrown toenails that require frequent trimming, obesity if given inadequate opportunity to exercise, a possibility for developing intestinal parasites due to insect-eating and ground-feeding habits, and egg-binding if suffering from nutritional deficiency or bred in cold conditions.

May be parasitized by the pin-tailed whydah. Has produced hybrids with: spice finch (L. punctulata), Magpie Mannikin (L. fringilloides), Black-and-White Mannikin (L. bicolor), Madagascar Mannikin (L. nana), African & Indian Silverbills (L. cantans and L. malabarica, respectively), Society finch (L. domestica), white-rumped munia (L. striata), brown-backed munia (L. nigriceps), and possibly the Common Waxbill (Estrilda astrild).

Breeding season

Breeding is restricted to the warm (rainy/wet) season, but may occur year-round near the equator.

Breeding tips

For best results, keep a group (at least 3 pairs and with equal numbers of cocks and hens) of these birds together to allow the birds to choose their own partners. Birds aged 1 to 4 years are best suited to breeding. Newcomers to the flock may be attacked, intensely courted, and mounted, but are usually accepted before long. Because they can become pugnacious while breeding, Bronze-winged Mannikins may be best kept in a group on their own while breeding. Birds are most successfully bred in a community fashion in larger aviaries, though some may breed in cages in pairs with increased productivity.

Introduce a breeding diet about one month prior to breeding. Pairs may make use of semi-open nest boxes, nest baskets, or they may build their own nests in bushes using coconut fiber, leaves, grass, and feathers for padding. Copulation tends to occur inside the privacy of the nest, and may be interrupted by other males if taking place outside of the nest. For rearing food, provide varied options of ample sprouted seed, egg food, and live food. Live food is considered optional, but appreciated.

Nest checks tend to be tolerated. Parents usually cease brooding the young around 10 days of age, so it is important to ensure an adequately warm enclosure at this time.

Fledged young raise the wing furthest from the parent bird when begging for food. Parents may escort fledglings back to the nest for about 2 weeks. After the young fledge, they do not need to be separated from the parents/breeding pairs, and may form a peaceful extended family from successive clutches. Sometimes captive young from older clutches may try to feed their younger siblings. Parent birds may drive these older juveniles out of the nest, but will often permit them to feed their younger siblings after they have fledged. If removing juveniles, wait 4 weeks until after they have fledged to ensure they are fully weaned. The spent nest can be removed so the parents build a fresh one for the next brood.

Birds should be transitioned to an austerity diet after breeding, where soft foods, egg food, live food, and greens are limited, and ideally housed in flights or aviaries for exercise.

Life Cycle

Clutch size:4-6 eggs
Hatch date:After 12-16 days of incubation
Fledge date:18-21 days of age
Wean date:3 weeks after fledging
First molt:Completed by 6 months of age

Related Article(s)

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Bronze-Winged Mannikin

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