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Chestnut Munia
Lonchura malacca

Black-headed Munia, Tri-coloured Nun, Pipit Rawa (Malay)

Chestnut Munias are not as common as the other Munias.

They specialise in eating grass seeds and have large conical beaks adapted for this purpose. They feed low among tall grass or on the ground. In Singapore, they are mostly seen in rural areas with tall grass. They are also found in cultivated lands, grasslands, scrub, secondary growth.

Gregarious and foraging in flocks, Chestnut Munias are constantly on the move and somewhat nomadic, although they don't migrate. They fly close together in groups, in an undulating flight.
Mangrove and wetland wildlife at
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
Main features: Small (11cm) with big head; large conical bills bluish grey; plumage chestnut; black head, throat, upper breast, centre of belly, undertail coverts.

Genders look alike.

Juvenile: Uniformly buffy brown plumage, no black head.

Call: Described as a loud heh; shrill preep.
chestnut munia on a perch
Photo from
In flight: Flight is whirring and bee-like.

Status in Singapore: Common resident throughout the island and North and South offshore islands.

World distribution: India to the Philippines and Sulawesi. Introduced in some countries.

Classification: Family Passeridae. World 386 species, Singapore 16 species.
Breeding: The Chestnut Munia's nest is a ball made out of dried grass, close to the ground in long grass or low bushes.

  To buy these references & others, visit
Nature's Niche
  • Morten Strange, "A Photographic Guide to Birds of Malaysia and Singapore: including Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Borneo", Periplus, 2000 (p. 372: description, voice, habits, distribution, status, photo).
  • Lim Kim Seng, "Pocket Checklist of the Birds of the Republic of Singapore", Nature Society (Singapore), 1999 (Abundance, status, Chinese and Malay names).
  • Lim Kim Seng and Dana Gardner, "Birds: An Illustrated Field Guide to the Birds of Singapore", Sun Tree Publishing Ltd., 1997 (p. 121: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, diagram, number of species).
  • G W H Davison and Chew Yen Fook, "A Photographic Guide to Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore", New Holland Publishers Ltd., 1995 (p. 129: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, photo).
  • Morten Strange and Allen Jeyarajasingam, "Birds: A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore", Sun Tree Publishing, 1993 (p. 94: description, distribution, habits, habitat, photo).
  • Clive Briffett, "A Guide to the Common Birds of Singapore", BP Science Centre,1992 (p. 139: habit, habitat).
  • Christopher Hails, "Birds of Singapore" illustrated by Frank Jarvis, Times Editions, 1987 reprinted 1995 (p. 157: habits, description, status in Singapore, and lovely drawings of the birds).
  • G C Madoc, "An Introduction to Malayan Birds", Malayan Nature Society, 1947 (p. 217: description, habits, habitat).
By Ria Tan, 2001