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Munia mayhem

Adult White-headed munia (Lonchura maja maja) Bali

One hotel I stayed at recently in Bali (the Ramada Bintang Bali Resort) had attractive gardens with a number of water fountains. These were a magnet for birds, specifically munias: small, gregarious seed eaters, also called minias or mannikins. One fountain was very much the preserve of White-headed munias (Lonchura maja) which were very abundant.

Water fountain with munias
Water fountain with munias

The White-headed munias flew down to the water fountain where they enjoyed a good bath, splashing and spreading their wings on the water.

White-headed munias (Lonchura maja maja) Bali
White-headed munias (Lonchura maja maja) Bali

There was also one Scaly-breasted munia or spotted munia (Lonchura punctulata) at the fountain (below). There were a few other scaly-breasted munias lurking in the bushes, but this fountain was dominated by the white-headed ones. The juvenile White-headed munias have a more brown, or cinnamon-coloured head.

White-headed munias (Lonchura maja maja) Bali
Scaly-breasted munia or spotted munia (Lonchura punctulata) Bali

There were birds of all ages having a bath. The adults have white heads; the male’s is usually whiter than the female and becomes more bright and extensive as he ages (1). These birds are kept as cage birds in some countries in South-east Asia.

White-headed munias juveniles (Lonchura maja maja) Bali
White-headed munias juveniles (Lonchura maja maja) Bali
White-headed munias (Lonchura maja maja) Bali
White-headed munias (Lonchura maja maja) Bali

After bathing, the birds flew up into the nearby bush, which provided more protection than the exposed fountain.

White-headed munias preening (Lonchura maja maja) Bali
White-headed munias preening (Lonchura maja maja) Bali

Some birds also seemed to be doing a bit of sun-bathing to dry off!

White-headed munias preening and sun-bathing (Lonchura maja maja) Bali
White-headed munias preening and sun-bathing (Lonchura maja maja) Bali

I saw munias all afternoon at the fountain, so either new birds were coming in to bathe (possible) or some were spending quite a lot of time there, moving back and forth between the trees and the fountain.

White-headed munias (Lonchura maja maja) Bali
White-headed munias (Lonchura maja maja) Bali
White-headed munias (Lonchura maja maja) Bali
White-headed munias (Lonchura maja maja) Bali

There was another fountain, rather more shaded and further away from the preening tree, where I came across a pair of White-bellied munias (Lonchura leucogastra) (below).

White-bellied munias (Lonchura leucogastra) Bali
White-bellied munias (Lonchura leucogastra) Bali
White-bellied munias (Lonchura leucogastra) Bali

It turned out that these pair of White-bellied munias were parents; they soon joined the youngsters back under the branches of a near-by tree (below).

White-bellied munia family (Lonchura leucogastra) Bali
White-bellied munia family (Lonchura leucogastra) Bali
White-bellied munia family (Lonchura leucogastra) Bali
White-bellied munia family (Lonchura leucogastra) Bali

The parents (on the right) were busy preening after having had a refreshing bath. It did not look however, like the youngsters had bathed. Perhaps they were still too young and it was too dangerous for them to venture out into the open?

White-bellied munia family (Lonchura leucogastra) Bali
White-bellied munia family (Lonchura leucogastra) Bali

The well-ordered line-up started to disperse and birds swapped places. The fluffy juvenile started to get some attention from one of the adults (below).

White-bellied munia family (Lonchura leucogastra) Bali
White-bellied munia family (Lonchura leucogastra) Bali

It was nice to see all of these birds enjoying the facilities of this hotel! Clearly, these are species which can thrive alongside man, if given a chance and not persecuted.

  1. http://www.finchinfo.com/birds/finches/species/white_headed_munia.php

rcannon992 View All

I am a retired entomologist with a background in quarantine pests and invasive invertebrates. I studied zoology at Imperial College (University of London) and did a PhD on the population dynamics of a cereal aphid (Metopolophium dirhodum) in the UK. I spent 5 years with the British Antarctic Survey studing cold hardiness of Antarctic invertebates and 17 years with the Food and Environment Research Agency. My main interests now are natural history, photography, painting and bird watching.

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