Family Waxbills (Estrildidae)

Least Concern

Tricoloured Munia (Lonchura malacca)


French: Capucin à dos marron German: Schwarzbauchnonne Spanish: Capuchino tricolor
Other common names: Black-headed Munia

Loxia malacca


, 1766,

China, Java and Malacca; error = Belgaum, Karnataka, India


Sometimes considered conspecific with L. atricapilla and also, less often, with L. ferruginosa, the three taxa being vocally very similar. Formerly, hybrid zone between present species and L. atricapilla apparently existed in E peninsular India (NW Odisha S to NE Tamil Nadu); it is suggested that some intermediate-looking individuals may be plumage morphs of present species, as they occur also in Sri Lanka, well outside range of L. atricapilla. In a mixed captive group, these two species associated and paired assortatively; also, no interbreeding reported in Hong Kong, where escaped individuals of both breed in Mai Po marshes. Monotypic.


Peninsular India S from Gujarat, C Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, and Sri Lanka; recent regular records in SE Rajasthan#R. Introduced to Hawaiian Is, West Indies (Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Martinique), Middle America (Mexico S to Panama) and N South America (Colombia, Venezuela).

Descriptive notes

11–12 cm; 9·8-14·4 g. Head to nape, side of neck and upper breast are glossy black, mantle to back and upperwing chestnut-brown, rump and uppertail-... read more


Soft contact call a quiet "tcht tcht"; loud contact call a nasal downturned "nyek,... read more


Grassland, wet and marshy areas, scrub, parkland; plains to 2100 m. In Venezuela, introduced... read more

Food and feeding

Grass seeds. Growing seeds preferred, grasps stems and climbs to fruiting head; also picks up fallen seeds on ground. Forages in pairs and... read more


Breeds in almost any month, mainly in monsoon season, in India; in Hispaniola (introduced) mainly Jun–Sept. Nests in small colonies,... read more


Resident, with local movements.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Locally common in native range. Apparently fairly common in various places elsewhere in the world, where introduced. Could suffer future habitat loss... read more

Recommended citation

Payne, R. (2019). Tricoloured Munia (Lonchura malacca). 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 6 December 2019).