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Tricolored Munia - BirdForum Opus

Alternative name: Black-headed Munia

Subspecies L. m. rubronigra : image taken in the Native Range
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Dist. Jhajjar, Haryana, India, 22 August 2019
Lonchura malacca


11–12 cm (4¼-4¾ in)
Chestnut plumage, black head, throat, center of belly, and undertail coverts; white across upper breast and down the flanks or the white area scalloped with either black or cinnamon-chestnut feather fringes; large conical bluish grey bill. Sexes are similar.
Juvenile: Uniformly buffy brown plumage, no black head, can probably not be safely separated from similar age Chestnut Munia.


Individual from introduced area
Photo © by Dave B Smith
Rahamut Tr., Trinidad, August 2010

Several morphs are described, including one that looks similar to an imagined hybrid between Black-headed Munia and Chestnut Munia.


Native range is India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka

It is now found widely in tropical areas of the world, including the Caribbean and South America.


This species was until 1996 considered conspecific with Chestnut Munia. Agreement has not been reached on which of the two offspring species should inherit the name of Black-headed Munia, and which needed a different name.


Two subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • L. m. rubronigra:
  • Northern India (Haryana to northern Bihar) and lowlands of Nepal
  • L. m. malacca:


Lowland rural areas with tall grass, cultivated lands, grasslands, scrub, secondary growth.


Subspecies L. m. malacca
Photo © by Saralagamage
Bundala, Sri Lanka, November-2012


The diet includes seeds.


The nest is a ball made out of dried grass, placed close to the ground in long grass or low bushes.


Call: a loud heh; shrill preep.


Photo © by Dave B Smith
Rahamut Tr., Trinidad, August 2010
  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved September 2015)

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