Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Chestnut Munia (Lonchura atricapilla)


French: Capucin à tête noire German: Schwarzkappennonne Spanish: Capuchino castaño

Loxia atricapilla


, 1807,

“les Grandes-Indes“= lower Bengal, India


Sometimes considered conspecific with L. malacca and also, less often, with L. ferruginosa, the three taxa being very similar vocally. See remarks under L. malacca. Present species has apparently hybridized with L. maja in Malay Peninsula; proposed species L. pallidiventer (known only in captivity) believed to be a hybrid. Race brunneiceps sometimes subsumed into jagori. In Borneo, proposed races selimbaue (described from Selimbau, in W Kalimantan) and obscura (from near Sampit, in S Kalimantan) both regarded as synonyms of jagori. Eight subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. a. rubronigra (Hodgson, 1836) – foothills of N India and Nepal terai.
  • L. a. atricapilla (Vieillot, 1807) – N India (from Punjab E to Brahmaputra Valley, S to Bihar and N Odisha), Bangladesh, Myanmar and S China (SW Yunnan).
  • L. a. deignani Parkes, 1958 – Thailand (except C & NE), Indochina and SE China, including Hainan.
  • L. a. sinensis (Blyth, 1852) – Malay Peninsula, lowland Sumatra and Riau and Lingga Archipelagos.
  • L. a. batakana (Chasen & Kloss, 1929) – mountains of N Sumatra.
  • L. a. formosana (Swinhoe, 1865) – Taiwan and N Philippines (N Luzon).
  • L. a. jagori (C. E. Martens, 1866) – Philippines (S of N Luzon) and Borneo.
  • L. a. brunneiceps (Walden, 1872) – Sulawesi, Togian Is, Banggai Is, Muna and Butung.
  • Introduced in Japan, Halmahera, Ambon, Palau Is, Hawaiian Is, Vanuatu, Jamaica, Martinique, and SW Ecuador (Guayas).

    Descriptive notes

    11–12 cm; 10·1–15·8 g. Male nominate race has head to nape and breast glossy black, upperparts dark chestnut, rump and uppertail-coverts reddish chestnut, tips of... read more


    Soft contact call a clear “pee” or “peet”; loud contact call “pink!... read more


    Inhabits grassland, including cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica), open wetlands, freshwater... read more

    Food and feeding

    Grass seeds, including rice; rice favoured food when available, taken mainly at growing milky stage. Takes seeds while perched on stem, and... read more


    Season mostly Jun–Sept in Indian Subcontinent and C Thailand (Bangkok area); in Malay Peninsula mid-Dec to mid-Oct (males maintain... read more


    Resident, with local movements; seasonal altitudinal migration noted in Borneo.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common to locally abundant. Abundant in parts of Indian Subcontinent. Locally common in SE Asia; perhaps extirpated in Laos, where... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2020). Chestnut Munia (Lonchura atricapilla). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 January 2020).