THE WHITE-HEADED MUNIA.
PLATE VII. (Fig. 3).
The Malacca Grosbeak, Edwards, Gleanings, ii. p. 202, pl. 306, fig. 1 (1760).
Maia sinensis, Briss. Ornith, iii. p. 212, pl. ix. fig. 2 (1760).
La Maia de la Chine, Briss. Ornith, vi. suppl, p. 76 (1760).
Maia sinensis, Briss. Syn. Meth. i. p. 365 (1763).
White-headed Grosbeak, Lath. Gen. Syn. iii. p. 151 (1783).
White-headed Grosbeak, Lath. Gen. Hist. Birds, v. p. 264 (1822).
Majan, Bodd, Tabl. d. pl. Enl. 109, 1 (1783).
La Maja de la Chine, Buff. Pl. Enl. 109, fig. 1 (1777).
Majan, Buff. Hist. Nat. Ois. iv. p. 107, pl. 3, 1. f. (1778).
Le Majan, Vieill. Ois. Chant, p. 87, pl. lvi. (1805).
Loxia maja, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 301 (1766); Mull. Vollst. Natur¬syst. iii. p. 549 (1773) ; Gmel. Syst. Nat. ii. p. 849 (1788); Lath. Ind. Ornith, i. p. 391 (1790) ; Daud. Traite d’Ornith. ii. p. 441 (1800) ; Shaw, Gen. Zool. ix. p. 301 (1815) ; Vieill. Nouv. Dict, xii. p. 236 (1817) ; Griff. Cuv. Anim. Kingd, ii. p. 152 (1829). Fringilla maja, Horsf. Trans. Linn. Soc. xiii. 1822, p. 162 ; Vieill. Tabl. Encycl. Meth. iii. p. 975 (1823) ; Licht. Doubl. Mus. Berol, pp. 26, 89 (1823).
Loxia leucocephala, Raffles, Trans. Linn. Soc. xiii. 1822, p. 314. Coccothraustes major, Steph. Gen. Zool. xiv. p. 87 (1824).
Amadina maja, Blyth, Journ. As. Soc. Beng. xiii. 1844, p. 949, xiv. 1845, p. 554, xv. 1846, pp. 36, 285 ; Gray et Mitch. Gen. Birds, ii. p. 370 (1849) ; Eyton, Cat. Birds, p. 253 (1856) ; Gray, Hand-List Birds, ii. p. 54 (1870).
Amadina leucocephala, Gray et Mitch. Gen. Birds, ii. p. 370 (1849). Munia Moja, Blyth, Cat. Birds Mus. A. S. B. p. 116 (1849) ; Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av. i. p. 451 (1851) ; Horsf, et Moore, Cat. Birds Mus. E. Ind. Comp. ii. p. 505 (1856-8) ; Moore, Proc. Zool. Soc. 1859, p. 444 ; Reichb. Singvogel, p. 40, pl. xiv. fig. 130, pl. xv. figs. 131, 132 (1861) ; Walden, Ibis, 1871, p. 177 ; Salvadori, Uccelli di Borneo, p. 264 (1874) ; Tweedd. Ibis, 1877, p. 318 ; Salvadori, Ann. Mus. Civ. Gen. xiv. 1879, p. 73 ; Salvin, Cat. Coll. Birds Strickl, p. 251 (1882) ; Scl. Vert. Anim. Gard. Zool. Soc. p. 239 (1883). Dermophrys maja, Cab. Mus. Hein. i. p. 174 (1851).
Munia major, Garrod, Proc. Zool. Soc. 1873, p. 462.
Spermestes maja, Russ, Stubenvogel, p. 163 (1879).
Figures. Edwards, Gleanings, ii. pl. 306, fig. 1. Brisson, Ornith. iii. pl. ix. fig. 2. Buffon, Pl. Enl. 109, fig. 1. Vieill. Ois. Chant, pi. lvi. Reichb. Singvogel, pl. xiv. fig. 130, pl. xv. figs. 131, 132.
English. Malacca Grosbeak. White-headed Grosbeak. The Majan or Maja Finch. White-headed Finch. Nun. White-headed Nun.
French. Le Majan. La Maja de la Chine. Le Gros-bec a tete blanche. La Nonnette it tete blanche. Capucin a tete blanche. Mahian it tete blanche. Le Gros-bec de Malacca.
German. Die weisskopfige Maja. Nonne. Nonnenvogel. nonnenfink. nonnenweberfink. Der Weisskopf. Die weisskopfige Nonnen-Ama-dine.
Native Names. Pipit, Sumatra (Baffles). Petap Whobun, Malay (Blyth). '
Habitat. Malacca and Sumatra. No doubt introduced into India, China, and many of the islands in the Malayan Archipelago.
Male. Head creamy white, tinged with buff on the nape and throat ; back and wings dark cinnamon-brown ; primaries, secondaries, and tail-feathers dark brown on the inner webs; rump and upper tail-coverts glistening deep red-brown ; centre tail-feathers and outer edges of the rest glistening dark ferruginous ; lower part of throat and chest ashy brown, tinged with buff; sides like the back ; belly, flanks, thighs, and under tail-coverts black ; axillaries and under surface of wing yellowish-buff ; iris dark brown ; bill plum¬beous ; legs slaty black : length 4.1, wing 2.1, tail 1.15, tarsus 0.6, culmen 0.45.
Female. Similar, but much paler ; the creamy white of the hind neck gradually forms a pale greyish band, which blends on to the mantle ; the black mesial stripe much more re¬stricted than in the male.
Young. Similar to that of Munia ferruginosa, but paler, especially on the under-parts.
Observ. In the adult male the crown of the head and cheeks become almost white ; the black mesial band expands on the chest, and gradually decreases towards the middle of the abdomen. The female is generally more ashy-brown on the hind neck ; the black mesial stripe restricted to the centre of the abdomen, and scarcely reaches to the chest, which is rather more ashy than that of the male.
The moulting in the young is gradual and gives it a mottled appearance ; the mesial stripe being dull blackish-brown, interspersed with buffish-white feathers.
THE White-headed Munia, or so-called Maja Finch, appears to be one of the earliest and best known species of this insular group of Asiatic Weaver-birds, and from a very remote period it has been brought to Europe in great numbers by trading and other vessels which touch annually at many of the islands in the Straits of Malacca, or Malayan Peninsula, where this bird abounds, especially in those islands where rice and smaller cereals are cultivated to any great extent.
This bird, like all its congeners, is exclusively a dry seed eater, and con¬gregates in enormous flocks on the paddy-fields when the seed is ripe, and after the harvest season, when the wild seeds have attained maturity, it finds subsistence until the following harvest. It is at this period of its existence (and after the breeding season) that it is procured in vast num¬bers and shipped to various parts of the globe ; the greater number come to Europe, although the natives retain them as cage pets among many others of the same family.
Lieut. H. P. Kelham tells us : “ This little White-headed Munia is very common throughout the west of the peninsula, including the islands of Penang and Singapore. When the grain is ripe it is to be seen in countless numbers in the paddy-fields. On being disturbed, it rises with a feeble, twittering cry, the flocks whirling and twirling over the top of the paddy like clouds of dust on a road when the wind is blowing. It is commonly known in the Straits as the ‘cigar bird’—a capital name ; for when flying, its white head, brown body, and small size give it very much the appear-ance of a cigar with the white ash on it.”
Reichenbach remarks in his ‘Singvogel,’ published in 1861, that “these birds have often been brought to us in modern times from East and South India, more especially from Sumatra and Borneo. They are great favour¬ites, more for their gentleness and pretty manners than for their weak voice. I received lately from Sumatra four little pairs with their nests and eggs, and a fifth nest was already to be found in Thienemann’s collections. The long melon-shaped nest is built between reeds and sedges ; it has an oval opening of 5 cents, in diameter. It is composed of grasses of the millet species, loosely and untidily woven together and wound round outside with a quantity of narrow and broad blades of grass, and thickly lined again inside with very fine silky-haired grasses twined together. The two or three eggs are dull white.”
No. Sex. Mus. Locality. Length. Wing. Tail. Tars. Culm.
a Male E. B. Singapore (Armstrong). 4.1 2.1 1.45 0.6 0.45
b Female E. B. Malaccaa. 3.65 2 1.45 0.6 0.45
c imm. E. B. Malaccaa. 4.15 2.05 1.35 0.6 0.45
d jun. E. B. Malaccaa. 4.05 2.1 1.35 0.6 0.45
e jul E. B. Malaccaa. 3.9 2.1 1.35 0.6 0.4
f ? E. B. Malaccaa. 3.9 2.05 1.4 0.6 0.45
g Female E. B. Malaccaa. 3.75 2.2 1.45 0.6 0.45
h ? F. W. Frohawk. Malaccaa. 4.6 2.15 1.45 0.6 0.45
i imm. A. Boucard. Malaccaa. 4.15 2.05 1.4 0.6 0.45
j jun. E. B. Malaccaa. 4 2.05 1.3 0.6 0.45
The figure (Plate VII.) is taken from a male (fig. 3) a, in my own collection.