(1036) Amandava amandava (Linn.).
THE INDIAN RED MUNIA.
Amandava amandava, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iii, p. 96.
The Indian Bed Munia is found in Ceylon and over the greater part of India and Northern Burma, except in the driest and most arid areas. It extends to Siam, Cochin China and is also found in Singapore and Java, where it may have been introduced, as it has to Mauritius. It ascends the Himalayas up to some 6,000 feet, and is found up to 4,000 in the hills of Cachar and South Assam. In the Nilgiris and hills of Southern India it ascends to the highest valleys.
This handsome little Finch breeds in gardens, hedges, round villages, in cultivated fields and, also, in thin scrub far from human habitation, but never, I believe, in true forest or dense scrub.
The nest is quite typical of the family, a ball of grass, generally a little flattened both at the top and bottom, so wider than high. Occasionally, however, it may have the vertical axes longer than the width. Externally it is made of fine grass and coarse grass mixed, sometimes one predominating, sometimes the other, and on this seems to depend the size of the nest. One found by myself and made almost entirely of coarse grass-blades and strips of the same measured roughly 8 inches high by about 7 wide. Another, made all of fine grass-stems and the finest strips of the blades, did not measure more than 5 by 5 inches, though this was exceptionally small. I have never seen any other lining than fine grass, the flowering ends of the same, or the seed-down matted together to form a soft bed. Butler, however, found a nest lined “with a few large white feathers ; in fact the cock bird brought one of these feathers to the nest just before I took it.” So, also, Miss Cockburn writes:—"These birds build large round nests lined with a few feathers,”
Other collectors have all recorded the lining to be such as I have myself found.
Like so many of the Weaver-Bird family, the cocks often add to the nest while the hen is incubating. This I have often seen myself, and Blewitt says :—“The male bird often persistently continues to bring and add materials to the nest during the process of incubation. The return of the bird with grass in his beak has many a time betrayed the situation of the nest, with the female and full complement of eggs, partially incubated, which, but for this singular habit, would never have been discovered,”
The nest is placed well inside some low, densely foliaged and thorny bush, completely concealed from casual view and often very difficult to find. As a rule it is pushed in among a mass of twigs, sup¬ported below and at the sides but never suspended. Nor is the material of the nest wound round the twigs, though now and then a few loose strands of grass may be taken round one of the twigs at the side of the nest.
Sometimes the bushes selected may be more or less overgrown with grass, but I have never seen and seldom heard of any nest built in grass alone. They like the vicinity of water and often, but not invariably, build near ponds, streams and canals, while Betham found several nests in grass and rushes standing in water. These nests were very low down, only a few inches above the water, and when they are built in bushes few nests will be found more than three feet above the ground and most much lower still. Sometimes they are built on the ground. Blewitt found one at the foot of a Plum-bush and Inglis also took one actually on the ground.
Nests with eggs may be found all the year round, but in the South, Nilgiris etc. they seem to breed chiefly in the cold weather, October to March. Over most of Northern India they lay from July to October, but in Assam we found most eggs between June and August.
The normal clutch of eggs numbers six to ten, while Rhodes Morgan found fourteen in one nest in the Nilgiris, though he believed these to have been, the produce of two females.
One hundred eggs average 14.4 x 11.2 mm. : maxima 17.0 x 12.1 and 15.5 x 12.5 mm, ; minima 13.0 x 10.6 mm.
1036. Amandava amandava
(1036) Amandava amandava (Linn.).