(1017) Munia malacca malacca.
The Black-headed Munia.
Loxia malacca Linn., Syst. Nat., 12th ed. i. p. 302 (1766) (Malacca, in errore) (Ceylon). Munia malacca. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 182.
Vernacular names. Nakal-nor (Hind.); Nalla Jinawayi (Tel.); We-karulla (Ceyl.); Tinna kuravi (Tam.).
Description. Whole head, neck and upper breast, middle of the abdomen, vent, thighs and under tail-coverts black; back, rump and wing-coverts pale chestnut; lower rump, upper tail-coverts and tail glistening maroon ; remainder of underparts white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown to crimson-brown; bill bluish or lavender-plumbeous ; legs and feet plumbeous.
Measurements. Total length about 120 mm.; wing 55 to 61 mm.; tail 35 to 39 ram.; culmen about 17 to 19 mm.
The Young bird has the whole upper plumage rufous-brown, the tail darker ; whole lower plumage pale fulvous-buff.
Distribution. Ceylon, Travancore and Malabar Coast and then running inland on the North to Belgaum. This appears to he a coastal form except in Belgaum. Unfortunately there is little material from Travancore, Malabar, etc. available for comparison and the position of these specimens is doubtful, though they seem to be much nearer the pale Belgaum birds than to the richly- coloured Madras form. North it occurs in Ratnagiri but how much further is not yet definitely recorded.
Nidification. The Black-headed Munia breeds principally after the rains have begun in July and August but nests with eggs, young, or empty may be seen practically throughout the year over the whole of its range. The nest is a large round bail with the entrance near the top and is made of rather large, wide strips of grass and reed blades, sometimes with and sometimes without a lining of grass flowers. Like all Munias' nests the construction is rather crude and the nest very untidy, especially at the entrance. Sugar-cane fields are a very favourite site, but the birds will build in long grass, bushes, or any convenient vegetation. The eggs, four to seven in number, are white, like all other Indian species of the family, fifty average 16.3 x 11.5 mm.: maxima 17.1 X 11.5 and 16.5 x 12.4 mm.; minima 15.5 x 10.8 and 15.6 x 10.6 mm.
Habits. This little Munia is very gregarious, often being found in flocks of forty or fifty birds, though more often in such as contain one or two families only. They frequent grass-lands, grain crops and are fond of sugar-cane fields and other tall crops standing in swampy ground. Their diet is exclusively grain and seed and when the rice crops are ripe they feed largely on this, at other times principally on grass-seed. The note is a very pleasant chatter and though it is generally credited with having no song, the male, when breeding, has one which is extraordinarily sweet, uttered, so to speak, under its breath and hardly audible at five yards distance or less.