Lonchura classification

This is a page from my book ‘Estrildid Finches in the picture’ . It discusses why Lonchuras are also classified in my book and how they are classified.


General remarks on Chapters 16 – 19

Unfortunatly, there is no universally accepted classification of Lonchuras, with frequent confusion as a result. As of  the same reason there is a lack of uniformity in the (popular) naming. For instance, the species names ‘Munia’ and ‘Mannikin’ are used disorderly in the English literature on this subject. In many cases, both names are even being used for the same bird.

In my book, the birds have been arranged according to their evolutionary status. In various Western European countries (for instance in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands), the convention is to divide these birds into four groups according to the characteristics described below. According to this convention this book uses the name Mannikins for the species in chapter 16, and the name ‘Munias’ for those in chapters 17-19.

Chapter 16 Mannikins

The relatively primitive species are described in chapter 16. These birds have the following characteristics:

  • They have a rather forward-leaning posture
  • Their tails are somewhat longer than the tails of the higher-developed species
  • They have no, or hardly any, conspicuous displayed colours on rump and tail cover
  • The plumage of the juveniles is usually a duller version, derived from their adults.

Chapter 17 Munias (1)

This chapter discusses some of the further developed species, having the following characteristics:

  • Their posture is more erect
  • Their tail is slightly shorter than that of the species in chapter 16
  • The displayed colours on rump and tail cover are more exuberant
  • The plumage of the juveniles usually differs from of that of the adults.

Chapter 18 Munias (2)

Chapter 18 deals with the magpie lonchuras, the African branch of the Lonchuras. These species have evolved further than the species described in Chapter 16.

Chapter 19 Munias (3)

These birds are sometimes treated together with the species described in Chapter 17, though these are more evolved. Their colours and colour patterns are more complex.
Other popular names are also known for some of these species and subspecies, but these have not been included in this overview.