Month: May 2014

African Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx cupreus

African Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx cupreus

The African Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx cupreus) is a species of cuckoo in the Cuculidae family. It is found in Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

In Afrikaans, it is known as the mooimeisie, or “pretty girl”.
In general terms, the African Emerald Cuckoo favors light and densely wooded forests with Mopane trees – occasionally, however, they are seen in urban settings, such as parks, gardens and vacated buildings.

Throughout West Africa, this cuckoo can be seen in lowland areas.
In Abyssinia it inhabits forest areas from 2000 to more than 3000m.
In Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, it is mostly confined to the intermediate altitudes (1000 to 2000m).
In eastern Africa it can usually be found in the lower country areas – specifically 700 to 1000m in Malawi.
In Kwazulu-Natal, this species is found in forest areas.
In Mozambique it is often seen in thorn and baobab country.
The African Emerald Cuckoo averages 21 to 23 cm (8.3 to 9.1 inches) in length and weighs around 35 grams 1.2 ounces. It has a short, slim bill and brown-orange eyes. Males have an overall brilliant metallic green plumage, except for the bright yellow lower breast and abdomen. The tail feathers are tipped with white. Females are brown above and barred with green and white below. Because of the mainly green plumage, the African Emerald Cuckoo is well camouflaged in the foliage and is usually only heard rather than seen.

The African Emerald Cuckoo doesn’t build its own nest nor does it raise its young. The hen lays her eggs in the nests of other birds, specifically they use the nests of Yellow-whiskered Bulbuls, Bee Eaters, Olive bush Shrikes or Puffback Shrikes. They invade the nest – either placing the eggs in the nest when the parents are foraging for food or forcing them off the nest while they are sitting in it. Once the hen is in the nest she will toss out any existing eggs and lay her own. The true occupants of the nest will come back to their nest and incubate the cuckoo egg(s) and raise any young as their own. After hatching, the cuckoo chick often pushes the other chicks or eggs out of the nest.

The Emerald Cuckoo feeds on insects, such as butterflies, caterpillars, locusts and ants.

The Emerald Cuckoo emits a clear four-note call.

The African Emerald Cuckoo is also known as the Emerald Cuckoo, Mooimeisie [Afrikaans], Intananja (Xhosa), uBantwanyana (Zulu), Smaragdkoekoek (Dutch), Smaragdkuckuck (German), Coucou foliotocol (French), Cuculo smeraldino africano (Italian), Cuclillo esmeralda africano, Cucu esmeralda (Spanish), as well as Cuco-esmeraldino (Portuguese).

Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus)

Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus)

The Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus) is a large tyrant flycatcher. This bird breeds from southern Arizona and the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas in the USA through Central America, South America as far as south as central Argentina and western Peru, and on Trinidad and Tobago. Birds from the northernmost and southern breeding areas migrate to warmer parts of the range after breeding.

An adult Tropical Kingbird is 22 cm (8.7 in) long and weighs 39 g (1.4 oz). The head is pale grey, with a darker eye mask, an orange crown stripe, and a heavy grey bill. The back is greyish-green, and the wing and forked tail are brown. The throat is pale grey, becoming olive on the breast, with the rest of the underparts being yellow. The sexes are similar, but young birds have pale buff edges on the wing coverts.

The call is a high-pitched twittering trill, tree-e-e-e-e-e-e, with a more complex version sung by the male at dawn.

Their breeding habitat is semi-open areas with trees and shrubs, including gardens and roadsides. Tropical Kingbirds like to observe their surroundings from a prominent open perch, usually high in a tree, undertaking long sally flights to acrobatically catch insects in mid-air, sometimes hovering to pick food off vegetation. They also eat some fruit from such diverse species as Tamanqueiro (Alchornea glandulosa), the Annonaceae, Cymbopetalum mayanum andGumbo-limbo (Bursera simaruba); foraging for these even in disturbed habitat. As they keep mainly to the upper levels of trees, they find little profit in following mixed-species feeding flocks in the understory.

These birds aggressively defend their territory against intruders, even much larger birds such as Magnificent Frigatebirds, toucans, caracaras or hawks. In a study in Parque Nacional de La Macarena of Colombia, parasitism bymicrofilariae and trypanosomas (presumably T. everetti) was infrequently recorded in Tropical Kindbirds.

They make a flimsy cup nest in a tree. The female incubates the typical clutch of two or three cream-colored eggs, which are marked with reddish-brown, for 16 days, with about 18–19 further days to fledging.

Widespread, common and adapatable, the Tropical Kingbird is not considered a threatened species by the IUCN.

Splendid Fairywren (Malurus splendens)

Splendid Fairywren (Malurus splendens)

The Splendid Fairywren (Malurus splendens), also known simply as the Splendid Wren or more colloquially in Western Australia as the Blue Wren, is a passerine bird of the Maluridae family. It is found across much of the Australian continent from central-western New South Wales and southwestern Queensland over to coastal Western Australia. It inhabits predominantly arid and semi-arid regions. Exhibiting a high degree of sexual dimorphism, the male in breeding plumage is a small, long-tailed bird of predominantly bright blue and black colouration. Non-breeding males, females and juveniles are predominantly grey-brown in colour; this gave the early impression that males were polygamous as all dull-coloured birds were taken for females. It comprises several similar all-blue and black subspecies that were originally considered separate species.

Like other fairywrens, the Splendid Fairywren is notable for several peculiar behavioural characteristics; birds are socially monogamous and sexually promiscuous, meaning that although they form pairs between one male and one female, each partner will mate with other individuals and even assist in raising the young from such trysts. Male wrens pluck pink or purple petals and display them to females as part of a courtship display.

The habitat of the Splendid Fairywren ranges from forest to dry scrub, generally with ample vegetation for shelter. Unlike the eastern Superb Fairywren, it has not adapted well to human occupation of the landscape and has disappeared from some urbanised areas. The Splendid Fairywren mainly eats insects and supplements its diet with seeds.

The Splendid Fairywren is one of 12 species of the genus Malurus, commonly known as fairywrens, found in Australia and lowland New Guinea. Within the genus it is most closely related to the Superb Fairywren. These two “Blue wrens” are closely related to the Purple-crowned Fairywren of north-western Australia.

The Splendid Fairywren is a small, long-tailed bird 14 cm (5.5 in) long. Exhibiting a high degree of sexual dimorphism, the breeding male is distinctive with a bright blue forehead and ear coverts, a violet throat and deeper rich blue back wings, chest and tail with a black bill, eye band and chest band. The blue breeding plumage of the male is often referred to as nuptial plumage. The non-breeding male is brown with blue in the wings and a bluish tail. The female resembles the non-breeding male but has a chestnut bill and eye-patch. Immature males will moult into breeding plumage the first breeding season after hatching, though this may be incomplete with residual brownish plumage and may take another year or two to perfect. Both sexes moult in autumn after breeding, with males assuming an eclipse non-breeding plumage. They will moult again into nuptial plumage in winter or spring. Some older males have remained blue all year, moulting directly from one year’s nuptial plumage to the next. Breeding males’ blue plumage, particularly the ear-coverts, is highly iridescent due to the flattened and twisted surface of the barbules.[24] The blue plumage also reflects ultraviolet light strongly, and so may be even more prominent to other fairywrens, whose colour vision extends into this part of the spectrum.[25] The call is described as a gushing reel;[20] this is harsher and louder than other fairywrens and varies from individual to individual. A soft single trrt serves as a contact call within a foraging group, while the alarm call is a tsit. Cuckoos and other intruders may be greeted with a threat posture and churring threat. Females emit a purr while brooding.

The Splendid Fairywren is widely distributed in the arid and semi-arid zones of Australia. Habitat is typically dry and shrubby; mulga and mallee in drier parts of the country and forested areas in the southwest. The western subspecies splendens and eastern Black-backed Fairywren (subspecies melanotus) are largely sedentary, although the Turquoise Fairywren (subspecies musgravei) is thought to be partially nomadic. Unlike the eastern Superb Fairywren, the Splendid Fairywren has not adapted well to human occupation of the landscape and has disappeared from some urbanised areas. Forestry plantations of pine (Pinus spp.) and eucalypts are also unsuitable as they lack undergrowth.

Secretary Bird (Sagittarius serpentarius)

Secretary Bird (Sagittarius serpentarius)

The Secretarybird or Secretary Bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) is a very large, mostly terrestrial bird of prey. Endemic to Africa, it is usually found in the open grasslands and savannah of the sub-Saharan region. Although a member of the order Accipitriformes, which also includes many other diurnal raptors such as kites, buzzards, vultures, and harriers, it is given its own family, Sagittariidae. It appears on the coats of arms of Sudan and South Africa.

The Secretarybird is instantly recognizable as having an eagle-like body on crane-like legs which increases the bird’s height to as much as 1.3 m (4 ft) tall. This bird has an eagle-like head with a hooked bill, but has rounded wings. Body weight can range from 2.3 to 4.6 kg (5.1 to 10.1 lb) and height is 90–137 cm (35–54 in). Total length from 112 to 152 cm (44 to 60 in) and the wingspan is 191–220 cm (75–87 in). The tarsus of the secretarybird averages 31 cm (12 in) and the tail is 57–85 cm (22–33 in), both of which factor into making them both taller and longer than any other species of raptor. The neck is not especially long, and can only be lowered down to the inter-tarsal joint, so birds reaching down to the ground or drinking must stoop to do so.

From a distance or in flight it resembles a crane more than a bird of prey. The tail has two elongated central feathers that extend beyond the feet during flight, as well as long flat plumage creating a posterior crest.[9]Secretarybird flight feathers and thighs are black, while most of the coverts are grey with some being white. Sexes look similar to one another as the species exhibits very little sexual dimorphism, although the male has longer head plumes and tail feathers. Adults have a featherless red face as opposed to the yellow facial skin of the young.

Secretarybirds are endemic to Sub-Saharan Africa and are non-migratory, though they may follow food sources. Their range extends from Mauritania to Somalia and south to the Cape of Good Hope.[9] These birds are also found at a variety of elevations, from the coastal plains to the highlands. Secretarybirds prefer open grasslands and savannas rather than forests and dense shrubbery which may impede their cursorial existence. While the birds roost on the localAcacia trees at night, they spend much of the day on the ground, returning to roosting sites just before dark.

Unlike most birds of prey, the Secretarybird is largely terrestrial, hunting its prey on foot. Adults hunt in pairs and sometimes as loose familial flocks, stalking through the habitat with long strides. Prey may consist of insects, mammalsranging in size from mice to hares and mongoose, crabs, lizards, snakes, tortoises, young birds, bird eggs, and sometimes dead animals killed in grass or bush fires. Larger herbivores are not generally hunted, although there are some reports of Secretarybirds killing young gazelles. The importance of snakes in the diet has been exaggerated in the past, although they can be locally important and venomous species such as adders and cobras are regularly among the types of snake preyed upon.

Prey is often discovered by the Secretarybirds via stomping on clumps of vegetation, which then flushes prey for them to capture. It also waits near fires, eating anything it can that is trying to escape. They can either catch prey by chasing it and striking with the bill and swallowing (usually with small prey), or stamping on prey until it is rendered stunned or unconscious enough to swallow.[9] Studies of this latter strategy have helped reconstruct the possible feeding mechanisms employed by the gigantic ‘terror birds’ that lived between sixty and five million years ago.[19]Larger or dangerous prey, such as venomous snakes, are instead stunned or killed by the bird jumping onto their backs, at which point they will try to snap their necks or backs. There are some reports that, when capturing snakes, the Secretarybirds will take flight with their prey and then drop them to their death, although this has not been verified. Even with larger prey, food is generally swallowed whole through the birds’ considerable gape. Occasionally, like other raptors, they will tear apart prey with their feet before consuming it.

Young are fed liquefied and regurgitated insects directly by the male or female parent and are eventually weaned to small mammals and reptile fragments regurgitated onto the nest itself. The above foodstuffs are originally stored in the crop of the adults.

In hunting and feeding on small animals and arthropods on the ground and in tall grass or scrub, Secretary Birds occupy an ecological niche similar to that occupied by peafowl in South and Southeast Asia, roadrunners in North andCentral America and seriemas in South America.

Secretarybirds often use kicks to incapacitate and kill their prey, with the bird’s sharp claws piercing the victim’s body. Their kicks are incredibly powerful; they are capable of shattering a human’s hand with a single kick.

Secretarybirds associate in monogamous pairs. During courtship, they exhibit a nuptial display by soaring high with undulating flight patterns and calling with guttural croaking. Males and females can also perform a grounded display by chasing each other with their wings up and back, much like the way they chase prey. They usually mate on the ground, although some do so in Acacia trees. Secretarybirds will stay close to their mate even if their chick has already left.

Nests are built at a height of 5–7 m (15–20 feet) on Acacia trees. Both the male and female visit the nest site for almost half a year before egg laying takes place. The nest is around 2.5 m (eight feet) wide and 30 cm (one foot) deep, and is constructed as a relatively flat basin of sticks.

Secretarybirds lay two to three oval, pale-green eggs over the course of two to three days, although the third egg is most often unfertilised.[citation needed] These eggs are incubated primarily by the female for 45 days until they hatch. The Secretarybirds are facultatively fratricidal. There are conflicting opinions on this phenomenon also called cainism—”No evidence [exist] of sibling aggression, but youngest in brood of 3 almost always dies of starvation…”

The downy young can feed autonomously after 40 days, although the parents still feed the young after that time. Both the parents feed the young. At 60 days, the young start to flap their wings, and by day 65–80 are able to fledge. Fledging is accomplished by jumping out of the nest or using a semi-controlled fall via fervent wing flapping to the ground. After this time, the young are quickly taught how to hunt through expeditions with their parents and are considered independent soon after.

Himalayan Monal (Lophophorus impejanus)

Himalayan Monal (Lophophorus impejanus)

The Himalayan Monal (Lophophorus impejanus) also known as the Impeyan Monal, Impeyan Pheasant, and Danphe, is a bird in the pheasant family, Phasianidae. It is the national bird of Nepal, where it is known as Danphe andstate bird of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, INDIA, where it is known as Monal.

Traditionally, the Himalayan Monal has been classified as monophyletic. However, studies have shown that the male Himalayan Monal of northwestern India lacks the white rump of other Himalayan Monals, and it has more green on the breast, indicating the possibility of a second subspecies. The scientific name commemorates Lady Mary Impey, the wife of the British chief justice of Bengal, Sir Elijah Impey.

It is a relatively large-sized pheasant. The bird is about 70 centimeters long. The male weighs up to 2380 grams and the female 2150. The adult male has multicoloured plumage throughout, while the female, as in other pheasants, is dull in colour. Notable features in the male include a long, metallic green crest, coppery feathers on the back and neck, and a prominent white rump that is most visible when the bird is in flight. The tail feathers of the male are uniformly rufous, becoming darker towards the tips, whereas the lower tail coverts of females are white, barred with black and red. The female has a prominent white patch on the throat and a white strip on the tail. The first-year male and the juvenile resemble the female, but the first-year male is larger and the juvenile is less distinctly marked.

The bird’s natural range extends from eastern Afghanistan through the Himalayas in Pakistan, Kashmir region and the Republic of India (states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh), Nepal, southernTibet, and Bhutan. There is also a report of its occurrence in Burma.

It occupies upper temperate oak-conifer forests interspersed with open grassy slopes, cliffs and alpine meadows between 2400 and 4500 meters, where it is most common between 2700 and 3700 meters. It may descend to 2000 meters in the winter. It tolerates snow and will dig through it to obtain plant roots and invertebrate prey.

The breeding season is April through August, and they generally form pairs at this time. In winter they congregate in large coveys and roost communally.

In some areas, the species is threatened due to poaching and other anthropogenic factors. In a recent study, the local population responded negatively to human disturbance involving hydroelectric power development.[3] The male Monal was under hunting pressure in Himachal Pradesh, where the crest feather was used to decorate men’s hats, until 1982, when hunting was banned in the state.

In Pakistan the bird is most common in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province but it can also be found in Kaghan, Palas Valley, and Azad Kashmir. The pheasant is not considered endangered in the region and can be easily located. In some areas, the population density of the species is as high as five pairs per square mile. The main threat to the species is poaching, as the crest is valuable here, as well. It is thought to bring status to its wearer, and is a symbol of authority.

Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus)

Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus)

The Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus) is a near-passerine bird occurring in mountainous regions from Mexico, through Central America, to northern Venezuela and along the Andes as far south as central Bolivia. Some taxa currently included in this species are sometimes split into separate species (see Taxonomy).

Like other toucans, the Emerald Toucanet is brightly marked and has a large bill. The adult is 30–35 cm (12–14 in) long and weight can range from 118–230 g (4.2–8.1 oz) The sexes are alike in appearance, although the female generally is smaller and slightly shorter-billed. It is, as other members of the genus Aulacorhynchus, mainly green. The vent and tail-tip are rufous. The bill is black with yellow to the upper mandible (amount depends on the exact subspecies) and, in all except the nominate (prasinus) and wagleri groups (see Taxonomy), a white band at the base of the bill. The members of the caeruleogularis group have a rufous patch near the base of the upper mandible, while some members of the albivitta group have a rufous patch near the base of the lower mandible. The throat is white in the nominate and the wagleri group, blue in the caeruleogularis and cognatus group, pale grey-blue in the lautus group, blue or black in the atrogularis group, and white or grey-blue in the albivitta group. The eye-ring ranges from blue to red, in some subspecies very dark, almost appearing blackish from a distance. The legs are dull greyish and the iris is dark.

Juveniles are duller, including the throat, and, depending on subspecies, the black areas of the bill are replaced with dusky or the bill is entirely yellowish.

The Emerald Toucanet is a generally common in humid forest and woodland, mainly at higher elevations. The 3–4 white eggs are laid in an unlined hole in a tree, usually an old woodpeckernest, but sometimes a natural cavity. Both sexes incubate the eggs for 14–15 days, and the chicks remain in the nest after hatching. They are blind and naked at birth, and have short bills and specialised pads on their heels to protect them from the rough floor of the nest. They are fed by both parents, and fledge after about 6 weeks. They are fed for several weeks after leaving the nest.

Small flocks, usually consisting of 5–10 birds, move through the forest in “follow-my-leader” style with a direct and rapid flight. This species is primarily an arboreal fruit-eater, but will also take insects, lizards, bird eggs, and other small prey.

The calls of the Emerald Toucanet are a loud dry rrip rrip rrip rrip rrip and a graval graval graval. It has been suggested that the two different calls are given by the two sexes. There are also croaking alarm and aggression calls.

Southern Double-collared Sunbird or Lesser Double-collared Sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus)

Southern Double-collared Sunbird or Lesser Double-collared Sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus)

The Southern Double-collared Sunbird or Lesser Double-collared Sunbird (Cinnyris chalybeus) (formerly placed in the genus Nectarinia), is a small passerine bird which breeds in southern South Africa. It is mainly resident, but partially migratory in the north-east of its range.

This sunbird is common in gardens, fynbos, forests and coastal scrub. The Southern Double-collared Sunbird breeds from April to December, depending on region. The closed oval nest is constructed from grass, lichen and other plant material, bound together with spider webs. It has a side entrance which sometimes has a porch, and is lined with wool, plant down and feathers.

The Southern Double-collared Sunbird is 12 cm long. The adult male has a glossy, metallic green head, throat upper breast and back. It has a brilliant red band across the chest, separated from the green breast by a narrow metallic blue band. The rest of the underparts are whitish. When displaying, yellow feather tufts can be seen on the shoulders. As with other sunbirds the bill is long and decurved. The bill, legs and feet are black. The eye is dark brown. The male can be distinguished from the similar Greater Double-collared Sunbird by its smaller size, narrower red chest band and shorter bill.

The female Southern Double-collared Sunbird has brown upperparts and yellowish-grey underparts. The juvenile resembles the female. The female is greyer below than the female Orange-breasted Sunbird, and darker below than the female Dusky Sunbird.

The Southern Double-collared Sunbird is usually seen singly or in small groups. Its flight is fast and direct on short wings. It lives mainly on nectar from flowers, but takes some fruit, and, especially when feeding young, insects and spiders. It can take nectar by hovering like a hummingbird, but usually perches to feed most of the time.

The call is a hard chee-chee, and the song is high pitched jumble of tinkling notes, rising and falling in pitch and tempo for 3–5 seconds or more.

Palawan Peacock-Pheasant (Polyplectron napoleonis)

Palawan Peacock-Pheasant (Polyplectron napoleonis)

The Palawan Peacock-Pheasant (Polyplectron napoleonis) is a medium-sized (up to 50 cm long) bird in the family Phasianidae.

The adult male is the most peacock-like member of the genus Polyplectron in appearance. It has an erectile crest and highly iridescent electric blue-violet, metallic green-turquoise dorsal plumage. It breast and ventral regions are dark black. The retrices are wide, flat, and rigid. Their terminal edges are squared. Each tail plume and upper-tail covert is marked with highly iridescent, light reflective, ocelli. The tail is erected and expanded laterally together with the bodies of the birds. The male also raise one wing and lower the other, laterally compressing the body during pair-bonding, courtship displays as well and may also be antipredator adaptation.

The female is slightly smaller than the male. Its contour plumage is cloudy silt in colouration. The mantle and breast are a dark sepia in coloration. The retrices are essentially similar to those of the male, exhibiting marked adumbrations and stunning ocelli. Throughout, their plumage is earthen and difficult to distinguish from the substrate and branches. While it has similar proportions of the tail to the male, its markings are not as visually arresting. Like the male, the female has a short crest and is whitish on the throat, cheeks and eyebrows.

Chicks are vivid ginger and cinnamon hued with prominent yellow markings. Juveniles of both sexes in the first year closely resemble their mothers. Subadult males in their second year more closely resemble their fathers but the mantle and wing coverts are marked with adumbrations analogous with the ocelli in the contour plumage of other peacock-pheasant species.

Like other peacock-pheasants, Palawan males and some females exhibit multiple spurs on the metatarsus. These are used in anti-predator defense, foraging in leaf litter and contests with other males. The male Palawan excavates slight depressions in which it orients its body during postural display behaviors. The bird vibrates loudly via stridulation of retrice quills. This communicative signal is both audible and as a form of seismic communication.

Palawan Peacock-Pheasants are strong fliers. Their flight is swift, direct and sustained.

The Palawan Peacock-Pheasant, with its unique male plumage and distant range, represents a basal (Early? Pliocene, c.5-4 mya)[3] offshoot of the genus Polyplectron (Kimball et al. 2001). The species is widely accepted to be monotypic, but while some males have white supercillia, giving a “double-barred” or masked appearance, others lack this trait, exhibiting dark faces, taller, denser crests and prominent white cheek spots. The birds with white supercillia are sometimes classified as a distinct subspecies, nehrkornae. The white-cheeked form may inhabit deep forest habitat with low ambient light in rolling terrain whilst the masked form appears to inhabit taller, more open forest on flatter terrain with higher ambient light. This masked form exhibits an abbreviated, more tightly compacted and highly iridescent crest. Females of the two respective forms exhibit analogous differentiation. The female of the masked form is more prominently patterned and densely crested with paler contour plumage.

Peacock-pheasants are highly invertivorous, taking isopods, earwigs, insect larvae, mollusks, centipedes and termites as well as small frogs, drupes, seeds and berries.

They are strictly monogamous, renesting yearly. The female usually lays up to two eggs. Both parents rearing chicks for up to two years. Males act as sentinels of nest sites and are highly pugnacious during the reproductive cycle.

Due to ongoing habitat loss, small population size and limited range as well as hunting and capture for trade, the Palawan Peacock-Pheasant is classified as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is listed on Appendix I of CITES.

Chestnut-breasted Mannikin (Lonchura castaneothorax)

Chestnut-breasted Mannikin (Lonchura castaneothorax)

Chestnut-breasted Mannikin (Lonchura castaneothorax) also known as the Chestnut-breasted Munia or Bully Bird (in Australia), is a small brown-backed munia with a black face and greyish crown and nape. It has a broad ferruginous breast bar above a white belly. The species is found in Australia, New Caledonia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. This species is also introduced to French Polynesia and France.

In Australia, the Chestnut-breasted Mannikin is known as a bird of reed beds and rank grasses bordering rivers, in swamp, in grassy country, and mangroves. It is commonly found in cane fields and cereal crops. In dry seasons, it is seen in arid country but always near water. It is also found in grassy woodland. (Slater et al. 1986)

In New Guinea, the Chestnut-breasted Mannikin is a bird of drier areas and does not usually seen in jungle roads and clearings where other munias such as Grey-headed Mannikin are found.

In French Polynesia, it is well established as an introduced species, and its habits have developed somewhaat differently, indicating the adaptability of the species. It is widespread on the bracken-covered hill slopes, in pastures and gardens (it is not a garden bird in Australia), on cultivated land and wasteland, in forest ecotones and coconut plantations (Lever 1989)

In Australia, during the breeding season Chestnut-breasted Muniais mostly seen in pairs, but in late autumn and winter months it congregates in large flocks, at times eating seeds of cereal crops.

Chestnut-breasted Mannikin is a highly sociable species, flocking in large number outside the breeding season. Breeding birds will join groups or flocks when foraging.

It has a distinct liking for Barley seed and thus the local people give it a name, Barley Bird. (Cayley 1932) The species is also fond of paspalum grass Paspalum longifolium, bullrush millet Pennisetum typhoides and Sorghum species. It is also been recorded that it feeds on feral millet Pannicum maximum and wild sugar cane Saccharum robustum in Papua New Guinea. (Bapista 1990)