Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata)

Scaly-breasted Munia


The scaly-breasted munia or spotted munia (Lonchura punctulata), known in the pet trade as nutmeg mannikin or spice finch, is a sparrow-sized estrildid finch native to tropical Asia. A species of the genus Lonchura, it was formally described and named by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. Its name is based on the distinct scale-like feather markings on the breast and belly. The adult is brown above and has a dark conical bill. The species has 11 subspecies across its range, which differ slightly in size and color.

Distribution And Habitat

The Scaly-breasted Munia is native from India and Pakistan to southeastern Asia, Taiwan, and the Philippines (Restall 1997), and has been introduced to Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Guadeloupe (Camacho Rodríguez and others 1999, Raffaele and others 1998). Introduced to Puerto Rico in 1971 (Raffaele and Kepler 1992), it is common from Ceiba to Vega Baja and occurs less frequently in lowlands throughout the island. It has also been reported from Culebra (J.A. Salguero- Faría, personal observation 2009) and Vieques islands, in the latter being a rare resident throughout the year (Gemmill 2015). The species usually occurs in lowland open areas with grasses, borders of sugarcane plantations, agricultural areas, road edges, and parks in urban areas (Raffaele and others 1998). Atlas fieldwork yielded a total of 388 records within 247 hexagons or 52 percent of the 479 total hexagons (see map). Of the hexagons where the Scaly-breasted Munia was found, breeding met the atlas definition of confirmed in 35 percent (86) of the hexagons, probable in 25 percent (61), and possible in 40 percent (100) (see map). Scaly-breasted Munia distribution. The map shows the highest breeding code by hexagon and overlaying the ecological life zones in Puerto Rico. Note: percentages may not total 100 due to rounding. 249Scaly-breasted Munia/Gorrión Canela

Scaly-breasted Munia Distribution

Breeding Habits

Previously published reports indicate that the Scaly-breasted Munia breeds primarily from June to October (Raffaele and others 1998). Nests are bulky and dome-shaped, usually built at a moderate height in trees (Raffaele and others 1998). Atlas results show that this species breeding season extends throughout the year with the most breeding activity from March to July (see chart). The breeding activity peaks in June after the onset of the rainy season, and breeding mostly occurs in the subtropical moist forest life zone (see chart). Results show that this species breeds mostly in lowlands within the subtropical moist forest life zone (66 percent of the hexagons) (see table and map). However, results indicate that it also breeds at higher elevations within the subtropical wet forest life zones (19 percent of the hexagons), as well as in the coastal plains of the subtropical dry forest life zone (15 percent of the hexagons) (see table and map).


The global population size for the Scaly-breasted Munia has not been quantified or assessed, but it is described as abundant, common or locally common (Clement 1999). This species is currently listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2016). Locally, this species is not listed in any of the threatened categories of PRDNER and USFWS. In Puerto Rico, the Scaly-breasted Munia has a protected habitat in land of about 10 percent or 620 km2 of the total area covered by the hexagons where evidence of breeding was found for this species (5905 km2).