The White-Headed Mannikin/Munia/Nun

White-headed Mannikin/Munia/Nun8,11,13,21,23
Lonchura maja, 2 subspecies
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

White-headed Munia, White-headed Nun, White-headed Mannikin, White-haired Munia, Cigar Bird, Maja Munia

  • L. m. maja
  • L. m. vietnamensis: Vietnam White-headed Munia



Area of distribution

Thailand, Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Vietnam


Gregarious, peaceful, calm.

Physical descriptions

Light grey beak, white head, neck and breast tinged with buff, chestnut brown body and wings, black-brown tail, and the center of the belly is black. Because of their very similar colorations, the White-headed Munia is sometimes confused with the Pale-headed Munia (L. pallida), which has flanks which are tan and significantly lighter in color than its brown wings. The Pale-headed Munia also lacks the black belly. Juveniles are cinnamon above and buff colored below with dark grey feet and a grey bill. Juveniles are indistinguishable from juvenile Black-throated Munias (L. ferruginosa), juvenile Pale-headed Munias, juvenile Chestnut Munias (L. atricapilla), and juvenile Scaly-breasted Munias (L. punctulata).


Sexes appear similar, although the white of hen's head may appear more smoky or dull when compared to the cock. The white color on the cock's head becomes more bright and extensive as he ages, however, which is why young cocks are sometimes confused with hens when they are compared to older cocks. In addition to having a paler head, the distinction between the buff colored plumage of the hen's chest and the chestnut brown plumage of the flanks is more blended and not as clearly delineated as on the cock. Only the cock sings.


Beak-clicking precedes the song which is a series of rapidly repeated notes followed by a drawn out whine.


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White headed nuns
Adult pair of White-headed Munias.

White headed nun juveniles
White-headed Munia juveniles.

Photo by Lim Chaikok
Photo by Lim Chaikok.

White headed nun

White headed nun

Favorite foods

Various millets, green food, sprouted seed.

Natural habitat

Open country with grassland, thick weeds, rice fields, green mountain slopes, gardens.


White-headed Munias live in large social groups outside of the breeding season, and only live in pairs for breeding. They have been known to flock with Scaly-breasted Munias and Chestnut Munias, wandering in search of food. Flocks roost in cane fields and reed beds. Pair bonds form while the birds are still in juvenile plumage. Clumping may occur in captivity and allopreening takes place between members of a pair.

Special considerations

Nails tend to become overgrown, so frequent nail trimming may be needed. These birds tend to be long-lived, and may become lethargic if housed in too small of an enclosure. They may hybridize with other closely related species in the Lonchura genus, and have also formed hybrids with Cut-throats (Amadina fasciata) and the Black-throated Finch (Poephila cincta).

Breeding season

Usually commences after the rainy season (February in Java), but can occur year-round if weather and food supplies allow.

Breeding tips

For best results, keep a group of these birds together (colony breeding) in a large aviary planted with tall grasses in the corner for the birds to nest in. Allow the birds to chose their own partners. A male will court a hen with a courtship routine which includes puffing the feathers out, spreading the tail, and moving the head to-and-fro while singing. Nests constructed of coarse grasses, grass stalks, coconut fiber, and thin plant stems are built in tufts of grass or thick bushes, though they may also accept a half-open nest box. Both sexes will construct the nest and both will incubate the eggs during the day; the hen incubates at night. For rearing food, provide ample soaked and sprouted seed, egg food, and possibly live food. Young are brooded for 12 days after they hatch.

Life Cycle

Clutch size:4-7 eggs
Hatch date:After 12-13 days of incubation
Fledge date:At 21 days of age
Wean date:About 6-7 weeks of age

Related Article(s)

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White-headed Munias

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