Meet Mr. Munia

The scaly-breasted Munia  

If you suddenly see the comical sight of a tiny little bird flying with a long runner of grass streaming out behind it, it's just the scaly breasted munia busy building its untidy nest! As Bangalore's boundaries expand, pushing into what was agricultural holdings, people are finding the little scaly breasted munia happily nesting in their gardens. According to Satish Pande's book, “Birds of Western Ghats, Konkan and Malabar” the scaly breasted munia (Lonchura Punctulata) has adapted well to urban areas, nesting in gardens, creepers, and trellis in verandahs. It is a small bird of around 11cm with a big head, a large conical bill, and the striking brown ‘scale' pattern on a white breast and flanks, which gives it its unusual name. Its upper parts are a plain brown, the rump often has a greyish tinge and the face and throat is a lovely chocolate brown. They have a seed diet and their conical beaks and thick tongues help in de-husking seeds from heads of grass.

Valli Iyengar is excited with “a pair of this species weaving their nest right opposite my home on a Jasmine creeper. It's eight days now and it is such a joy to watch one of them, flying briskly to pick the blade of grass as nesting material and fly back in 40 seconds. So industrious and so meticulous, I feel I am really blessed with the sight,” he says.

Pooja Sagar has been enjoying the sight of a munia building its nest. “In a thick jasmine bush in my neighbour's garden, the spotted munias have their nest. They pull out a thin strip of the garden palm leaf, and then fly towards the bush with the palm strip in its beak. For a moment, I thought I had spotted a new species of bird with a long green tail feather!” she reveals with a laugh.

Valley School is a popular haunt for bird watching, says Sampath Kumar. “I was so excited with all the bird activity around and got some nice pictures with my new telephoto lens of a cute munia on the fence.”

Large campuses of multinationals, which are on the fringes of the city too, support a lot of bird life. Krupakar Singampally says, “I have had a few sightings in Infosys campus in Electronic City over the last month with the munias busily collecting leafy twigs from a set of bougainvillea bushes and taking them to a palm tree. While Viswanath Vittal, a true birder says, “While the munia's calls could be considered noisy by my colleagues at Symphony Services on the Outer Ring Road, their calls are sweet music to my ears!”

Taking good pictures of birds could be considered an art form and a lot of patience and skill is required to get good pictures.

But Umesh Mani says “I have never found the munias too shy. Maybe they can sense that I mean them no harm!”

As long as the little bird has humans who enjoy its presence and take care not to disturb its habitat, it can peacefully co-exist with us.

June to September is its nesting season so if you hear a low volume chweep, cheep, chweep, chee, chee, you have been blessed with a munia nesting in your garden.

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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 11:35:58 AM |

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