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Alternative name: Black-and-white Munia
Length 9-10cm, mass 9g.
Adult: Head, nape, throat, upper breast and tail black. Mantle, back and lesser wing coverts are chestnut or black. The rump, flanks and flight-feather panel on folded wings are barred black and white and the lower breast, belly and undertail coverts are white. Bill blue-grey, eyes brown and legs and feet dark grey.
Immature (S. b. nigriceps): Birds moult gradually to adult plumage; the head and throat are mottled brown and black and are the last parts to gain adult colouring.
Most of Africa south of the Sahara, except the easternmost parts. It is also found as an escapee all the way in Singapore. A bird was observed building a nest on a tree on May 17 in Singapore but breeding has yet to be confirmed.
Black-and-white Mannikin has five subspecies:1
Some authorities separate nigriceps and minor as a separate species, Red-backed Mannikin L. nigriceps.2
Black-and-white Mannikin is sometimes placed in the genus Spermestes.
Moist savanna and woodland, lowland moist forest, forest edges, parks, gardens.
Locally common; generally in small flocks. Forages both on the ground and from seed heads of standing grass.
Eats seeds of many species of grass; also small insects. Visits seed feeders, especially when natural sources of grass seed are limited (winter and spring in southern Africa). Also eats petals, nectar and filamentous algae from pools.
The nest is an oval ball, generally of grass, but old-man's-beard (lichen of the genus Usnea) and wild asparagus stems are also used. Two to seven eggs are laid (October to May in southern Africa).
The song is a short series of contact notes run together. Contact calls are soft kip (given with bill closed) and a short piping or whistling seeet seeet, usually given in flight; alarm call is a short harsh note.
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