Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Grey-headed Mannikin (Lonchura caniceps)


French: Capucin gris German: Graukopfnonne Spanish: Capuchino canoso
Other common names: Grey-headed Munia

Munia caniceps


, 1876,

Naiabui, Hall Sound, New Guinea


Previously thought, on biogeographical grounds, to form a species-pair with L. vana. Has apparently hybridized with L. castaneothorax in lowlands near Port Moresby. Race scratchleyana distinctive, with its yellow vs rusty-orange uppertail-coverts (3); olive-grey nape (1); paler, greyer underparts (2); and possibly montane vs lowland habitat (ns[1]). Elevation of this taxon to species level, however, inadvisable until a better understanding is reached of its relations with lower-lying taxa to the N and S, e.g. racial affinities of mid-montane populations on N watershed at Garaina, Chirima Valley and Myola grasslands not determined; these included, tentatively, with scratchleyana, while Myola birds (with head and breast darker grey) described as race myolae; further study required. Three subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. c. kumusii (E. J. O. Hartert, 1911) – N coast of SE New Guinea (Lae E to upper Musa R).
  • L. c. caniceps (Salvadori, 1876) – Lowland Grey-headed Mannikin – S coast of SE New Guinea (Malalaua E to at least Kupiano).
  • L. c. scratchleyana (Sharpe, 1898) – Montane Grey-headed Mannikin – mountains of SE New Guinea.
  • Descriptive notes

    10–11 cm; 11·5 g. Male nominate race has head to nape and throat pale grey, mantle, back and upperwing dark brown, rump orange, upper­tail-coverts and edge of... read more


    Call a repeated weak, sad nasal whistle, "teee" or "too", slight difference between male and female... read more


    Grassland and moist savanna, rice fields, lawns, airstrips, roadsides, sometimes in towns. Lowlands... read more

    Food and feeding

    Grass seeds. Takes seed both from seeding heads, while perched on stem, and on the ground. Forages in small parties of 2–20... read more


    Breeds in wet season, near Port Moresby Oct–Apr and nest-building in May, nesting peaks in Dec and in Feb; in drier savanna begins to... read more


    Resident, or nomadic; one individual recaptured 9 km from ringing site, flocks seen to move along... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to locally common. Population density near Port Moresby fluctuated between 0·2 and 2·1 birds/10 ha in Nov–May, suddenly increased... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2019). Grey-headed Mannikin (Lonchura caniceps). 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 10 December 2019).