The Chestnut Munia or Black-Headed Mannikin/Munia/Nun

Black-headed Mannikin/Munia/Nun11,13,21,23
Lonchura atricapilla (formerly Lonchura malacca atricapilla), 10 subspecies
Chestnut Munia
Singing ability:Not very melodious
Compatibility:Passive, mixes well with other passive species
[Compatibility Chart]
Size:4.25" (10.8 cm)
Approx. cost:$25 (US) per bird

Other common names

Chestnut Mannikin, Chestnut Munia, Black-headed Munia, Black-headed Nun, Black-headed Mannikin, "Black Hooded Nun"

  • L. a. atricapilla: Indian Black-headed Munia, Eastern Black-headed Munia, Indian Chestnut Munia
  • L. a. rubroniger: Nepal Black-headed Munia
  • L. a. sinensis: Malaysian Chestnut Munia, Chinese Chestnut Munia
  • L. a. formosana: Formosan Chestnut Munia, Taiwan Chestnut Munia, Taiwan Black-headed Munia, Grey-faced Munia
  • L. a. deignani: Deignan's Chestnut Munia, Indochina Chestnut Munia
  • L. a. brunneiceps: Brown-headed Munia
  • L. a. jagori: Philippine Chestnut Munia, Philippine Munia, Philippine Black-headed Munia
  • L. a. selimbauensis: Selimbau Chestnut Munia
  • L. a. obscura: Dark-backed Chestnut Munia
  • L. a. batakana: Batakana Chestnut Munia, Batakana Munia



Area of distribution

India, China, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Sulawesi, Ambon, Muna, Philippines, Taiwan, Sumatra, Island of Borneo


Gregarious, peaceful, calm.

Physical descriptions

Light grey beak, black head, rich chestnut brown to mahogany body, wings, and tail. Some races have a black belly and a yellow or orange tinge to the tail. Juveniles are a drab cinnamon-brown and are indistinguishable from juvenile White-headed Nuns (L. maja) and juvenile Scaly-breasted Munias (L. punctulata).


Sexes appear similar, but only the cock sings.


The cock's song sounds like a kitten mewing from a distance. It begins with a sries of almost inaudible clicks, followed by an extended whine, then ends in a series of slurred notes.


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.

Adult and JuvenileAdult and Juvenile
Left: adult & juvenile. Right: an adult and a juvenile getting its adult plumage.

Photo by Francis Yap
Adults. Photo by Francis Yap.

Photo by Chris Li
Adult. Photo by Chris Li.

Photo by Chris Li
Adult. Photo by Chris Li.

Photo by Kevin Lin
I suspect this is L. a. brunneiceps; group of adults & juveniles. Photo by Kevin Lin.

Favorite foods

Large grain millet, sprouted seed.

Natural habitat

Grassy areas, especially swampy grasslands and marshy areas, reeds, rice fields, forrest edge, and scrub brush.


Black-headed (Chestnut) Munias live in social groups throughout the year; they gather in rushes and tall grasses to roost in flocks. Breeding birds and recent fledglings roost in nests.

Special considerations

Nails tend to become overgrown, so frequent nail trimming may be needed. Hybrids have been reported between Chestnut Munias and Chestnut-breasted Mannikins (L. castaneothorax), society finches, White-headed munias (L. maja), African and Indian Silverbills (L. cantans and L. malabarica, respectively), Scaly-breasted Munias (L. punctulata), and Tricolored Munias (L. malacca), so take care not to allow cross-breeding when housing these species together.

Breeding season

May to November in the Indian parts of its range, June to September in Burma, and December to October in Malaya.

Breeding tips

For best results, keep a group of these birds together in a large aviary planted with tall grasses or a growth of reeds in the corner for the birds to nest in. Allow the birds to chose their own partners. Males will court females with the use of a song and courtship dance which includes carrying a piece of grass and hopping on the perch beside the hen. Receptive hens will crouch and tail-quiver, inviting copulation. Mating is often followed by bill-fencing and mutual allo-preening. Nests constructed of dried grass and fine twigs are built in dense reeds, tufts of grass, palm trees, or thick bushes. Both parents share the tasks of nest building, incubation, and chick rearing. Young hatch naked. For rearing food, provide ample sprouted seed, egg food, and mealworms. After the young fledge, they may continue to sleep in the nest for 1-3 weeks.

Life Cycle

Clutch size:4-6 eggs
Hatch date:After 12-15 days of incubation
Fledge date:22-28 days of age
Wean date:About 6-7 weeks of age

Related Article(s)

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Black-headed (Chestnut) Munias

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