Black-headed Munias

Black-headed Munias (Lonchura atricapilla)

The Black-headed Munias, Lonchura atricapilla, is also known as Chestnut Muni. Chestnut Mannikin, Black-headed Nun, Black-headed Mannikin, Southern Black-headed Munia or “Black Hooded Nun”.

It was formerly considered a subspecies of the Tricolored Munia (Lonchura malacca atricapilla)

Black-headed Munias Perching on a Grass
Black-headed Munia Perching on a Grass

Distribution / Range

The Black-headed Munia is found in Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

They inhabit open grassland and cultivation.



The Black-headed Munia averages 11–12 cm in length.

Males and females look alike – but only the male sings. The adult plumage is mostly brown, except for the black head. Some races also have a black abdomen. They have a stubby pale grey beak.

Young birds are pale brown above, and lack the black head of the adult. They are pale buff below Immature birds are indistinguishable from juvenile White-headed Nuns (Lonchura. maja) and juvenile Scaly-breasted Munias (Lonchura punctulata).

Side View of Black-headed Munia
Side View of Black-headed Munia

Recognized Subspecies

  • Lonchura atricapilla atricapilla (Nominate): Indian – Black-headed Munia, Eastern Black-headed Munia, Indian Chestnut Munia
  • Lonchura atricapilla rubroniger: Nepal Black-headed Munia
  • Lonchura atricapilla sinensis: Malaysian Chestnut Munia, Chinese Chestnut Munia
  • Lonchura atricapilla formosana: Formosan Chestnut Munia, Taiwan Chestnut Munia, Taiwan Black-headed Munia, Grey-faced Munia
  • Lonchura atricapilla deignani: Deignan’s Chestnut Munia, Indochina Chestnut Munia
  • Lonchura atricapilla brunneiceps: Brown-headed Munia
  • Lonchura atricapilla jagori: Philippine Chestnut Munia, Philippine Munia, Philippine Black-headed Munia
  • Lonchura atricapilla selimbauensis: Selimbau Chestnut Munia
  • Lonchura atricapilla obscura: Dark-backed Chestnut Munia
  • Lonchura atricapilla batakana: Batakana Chestnut Munia, Batakana Munia

Diet / Feeding

The Black-headed Munias feeds mainly on grain and other seeds..

Nesting / Breeding

Its nest is a large domed grass structure situated in a bush or tall grass. The average clutch consists of 4 to 7 white eggs.

Black headed Munia Bird on a Thorn
Black headed Munia Bird on a Thorn

Calls / Vocalizations

Only the male sings. His song sounds similar to a kitten mewing. The call begins with a sries of almost inaudible clicks, followed by an extended whine, then terminates in a series of slurred notes.


Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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