THE SUMATRAN MUNIA.
PLATE V. (FIG. 3).
The Chinese Sparrow, Edwards, Nat. Hist. Birds, i. p. 43, pl. 43. male (1743).
Passer fuscus, capite nigro, Klein, Hist. Av. Prodr. p. 90 (1750).
Der chincsische Sperling, Catesby et Edw. Samml. ausl. selt. Vogel. i. Tab. lxxv. (1751).
Coccothraustes sinensis, Briss. Ornith, iii. p. 235 (1760).
Coccothraustes sinensis, Briss. Syn. Meth. i. p. 374 (1763).
Loxia malacca, Linn. Syst. Nat. i. p. 302, var. B (1766) ; Gmel. Syst. Nat. ii. p. 851, var. B (1788) ; Lath. Ind. Orn. i. p. 386, var. (4 (1790) ; Shaw, Gen. Zool. ix. p, 332, var. 0 (1815).
Malacca Grosbeak, Lath. Gen. Syn. iii. p. 141, var. A (1783) ; Lath. Gen. Syn. Suppl. i. p. 152 (1787) ; Lath. Gen. Hist. Birds, v. p. 244, var. A (1822).
Munia sinensis, Blyth, Cat. Birds Mus. A. S. B. Append, p. 337 (1849) ; Horsf, et Moore, Cat. Birds Mus. E.-Ind. Comp. ii. p. 508 (1856-8) ; Moore, Proc. Zool. Soc. 1859, p. 444 ; Swinh. Proc. Zool. Soc. 1871, p. 304 ; David et Oust. Oiseaux Chine, p. 342 (1877).
Amadina sinensis, Gray et Mitch. Gen. Birds, ii. p. 370, pt. (1849).
Amadina sinensis, Gray, Hand-List Birds, ii. p. 54 (1870).
Munia malacca, Bonap. Consp. Gen. Av. p. 452, pt. (1850).
Munia malacca, Bernstein, Journ, fur Ornith. 1861, p. 181.
Munia rubronigra, Swinh. Ibis, 1860, p. 61, 1861, p. 45.
Munia atricapilla, pt. Walden, Trans. Zool. Soc. 1875, p. 208.
Munia atricapilla, Salvad. Ornit. Papuasia, p. 438 (1881).
Figure. Edwards, Nat. Hist. Birds, i. pi. 43, male (1743).
English. Chinese Sparrow. Malacca Grosbeak, variety. Chinese, or Chestnut and black-headed Jacobin or Munia. Black-headed Finch, Chestnut-bellied Finch, or Munia.
French. Le Gros-bec de la Chine. Capucin a tide noire. Le Gros-bec Mungul. Le Jacobin de la Chine.
German. Der chinesische Sperling. Die chinesische Munia. Der Mungul, Mongole oder Chinese.
Habitat. Java and Sumatra. Pinang (Canton) ; Sumatra (Baffles) ; introduced into China (Swinhoe).
Male. Head, neck, and upper part of breast black, slightly glossed ; rest of upper and under parts cinnamon-brown, paler on the mantle ; lower part of rump glistening maroon ; upper tail-coverts edged with glistening ferruginous; tail-feathers pale cinnamon, edged with ferruginous ; wings like the back ; lower part of abdomen and under tail-coverts very faintly tinged with darker cinnamon brown ; iris dark brown ; bill translucent silvery white, blue at the base ; feet plumbeous : length 3.65, wing 1.95, tail 1.45, tars. 0.6, culm. 0.4.
Female. Similar, but without the tinge of darker cinnamon brown on the abdomen and under tail-coverts.
Young. Very pale rufous brown ; chin, throat, and abdomen buffish-white.
Observ. In some specimens of this species the tinge of dark cinnamon-brown on the abdomen and under tail-coverts is rather more decided than in others ; but the absence of the black mesial stripe will always determine the species. It is decidedly much smaller than Munia atrieapilla. The young of the various species of this group are so alike, it is with great difficulty that they can be separated.
This Munia, which is well figured and described by Edwards in his ‘ Natural History of Birds,’ published in 1743, under the name of 'Chinese Sparrow,’ is without doubt the same species which Brisson characterized in his ‘Ornithologie,’ published in 1760, as Coccothraustes sinensis. The absence of the black mesial band and black under tail-coverts in the present species is a well-marked distinction, which separates it at once from the ‘Mungul,’ Loxia atricapilla, of India, figured and described by Vicillot in his ‘Oiseaux Chanteurs,’ published in 1805.
The true habitat of this pretty Munia appears to be the islands of Pinang, Sumatra, Java, and probably the smaller islands in close prox¬imity, and the Malayan Peninsula. Mr. R. Swinhoe includes it in his birds of China, but remarks : “ I almost doubt whether this is a Chinese bird, as I have never yet met with it in a wild state. It is occasionally to be seen in cages, but I tank it comes from the Straits.”
To distinguish this Munia, which is almost exclusively a Sumatran bird, and not an indigenous species of China, only having been introduced as a cage bird to that country, I propose to call it the Sumatran Munia, Munia sumatrensis, the appellation Munia sinensis being inappropriate.
We are indebted to Dr. H. A. Bernstein for his observations “On the Nests and Eggs of the Birds of Java,” which appeared in the ‘ Journal fur Ornithologie’ for 1861, from which I transcribe the details respecting this bird: “ Burning Prit of the Malays and Sundanese. This smaller species appears as numerously as the two preceding (Munia ferruginea and M. oryzivora) everywhere in western Java, in inhabited neighbourhoods, as well as in places overgrown with alang-mang, glagah, in short in bushy places. On the other hand, in high forests you will seek in vain for one bird, as also for the species related to it. It is a dear, harmless little bird, who lives, except during the breeding season, in small companies or families, whose members are friendly together, and who are seldom far apart from one another. It is so tame that it will allow a person to come quite close up to it, and one often, therefore, has an opportunity of Observing its ways and mode of living from a near point of view. Its voice, which is often heard, especially when it first takes flight, sounds delicate and gentle, ‘piet,’ or rather ‘ piuht,’ and has given rise to its Malayan name. Its food is composed of all kinds of small seeds and grain ; grains of rice are too hard and large for it when they are ripe ; it probably, therefore, visits the fallow-lying rice-fields only on account of the numerous plants which spring up very rapidly between the stubble and soon bear seed. When caged it is easily fed on rice boiled in water, or, even better, on small seeds and grains. It usually builds its nest at a slight elevation from the ground, in the twigs of a bush or low tree, often close to much-trodden roads and paths. In form the nest is more or less round, with an entrance at the side opening upwards transversely, and is composed of small roots and stalks of various plants, principally of grasses, which materials are generally very loosely woven on the outside of the nest, but which, on the contrary, on the inner side, are more closely and carefully twisted together. The number found in one nest of the shining- white eggs which are 14 to 15 millimetres in length, and whose greatest diameter measured obliquely is 10 to 11 millimetres, amounts usually to five, seven sometimes, and rarely only to four.”
For the knowledge of the existence of this species as a permanent resident in the Malayan Peninsula, we are indebted to Lieut. H. B. Kelham, who gives a very complete contribution on ‘Malayan Ornithology,’ which appeared in the ‘Ibis’ for 1881. He remarks that “Munia atricapilla (Vieill.) is common, though not so much so as M. maja. Like that species, it congregates in large flocks. My note book says :—
“Saigong, Perak, 23rd May, 1877. To-day, on the low ground bordering Saigong Jhell, I shot several Munias out of a large flock which rose from the paddy. They are very like M. maja, except that they have the head black instead of white.
“One of these, a male, is 4.5/12 inches in length, irides red-brown, beak plumbeous, head, neck, and upper part of breast black, upper tail-coverts golden-chestnut, rest of plumage chestnut, becoming dusky on the tail ; its stomach contained a great many minute particles of quartz.
"At first I thought this bird was Munia rubronigra (Hodgs.), which it much resembles ; but that species has the middle of the belly, the vent, and the under tail-coverts black instead of chestnut.”
Mr. H. O. Forbes also procured this bird in Sumatra.
No. Sex. Mus. Locality. Length. Wing. Tail. Tars. Culm.
a Male E. B. Java. 3.65 1.95 1.45 0.6 0.4
b ? E. B. Java. 3.7 2 1.45 0.6 0.45
c Male E. B. Sumatra (H. O. Forbes). 3.7 2 1.4 0.6 0.45
d Juv. E. B. ? 3.95 2.2 1.3 0.6 0.4
e Male A. Boucard. Cochinchina, Introduced. 4.4 2 1.3 0.6 0.4
The figure (Plate V. fig. 3) is taken from the male a in my own collection.