MANNIKINS & MUNIAS
This large and popular group of estrildids are frequently housed in colonies, where successful breeding results are more likely as the birds natural flocking instincts will be satisfied. In addition, it increases the chances of pairs being acquired, since it is often impossible to sex these birds by visual means. Follow the recommendations given previously for colony breeding. The only drawback is that sometimes only the dominant pair of birds will go to nest, and little can be done to overcome this problem. Mannikins and munias have a wide distribution, extending from Africa eastwards to Australasia. Mannikins should not be confused with the totally unrelated group of softbills known as manakins, which occur in Central and South America. A number of color mutations are now established in the case of the Java Sparrow and, perhaps surprisingly, may prove more free-breeding than the normal Grey form. White Java's have been known for a long time, being first bred in the Orient. They tend to be slightly smaller than the Grey. Many are not pure white, showing traces of Grey in their plumage. Strains of pied Java Sparrows have been evolved, and in some instances, the markings are effectively standardized, giving rise to the saddleback. One of the most attractive mutations is the Fawn, which has been developed in Australia since the 1960s. There is no difference in plumage between the sexes, but as in other similar species, cock birds can be recognized by their song. Java Sparrows are relatively hardy once acclimatized and can be kept safely out of doors throughout the year. They prefer a nesting-basket for breeding, and build a nest (typical of its group) in which the hen will deposit up to eight eggs.
This genus comprises nearly 30 species. Although many of these are popular aviary birds, others - notably those confined to islands in and close to the Celebes Sea - are virtually unstudied. These birds frequently develop overgrown claws, a natural adaptation that helps them to grip on to the stems of grass when feeding on a seed head. However, it can prove dangerous in aviary surroundings. If these birds are kept in mixed groups, hybridization may occur. Other species often available are: Spice Bird (L. punctulata): Like other members of this genus, Spice Birds are less dependent on livefood for the successful rearing of chicks compared with other estrildids. They normally use fresh material for nest construction, and generally prefer to nest and roost in thick vegetation. Chestnut Munia (L. malacca): Also known as Tri-coloured Nun, this bird is easy to maintain once acclimatized. A group should be housed together for the best chance of success. White-backed Mannikin (L. striata): This species is thought to be the original ancestor of the Bengalese Finch, and certainly has been kept in aviaries for centuries. Magpie Mannikin (L. fringilloides): These black and white mannikins possess sturdy beaks and can prove quite aggressive.
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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.