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Bronze Mannikin
(Spermestes cucullata)

Bronze Mannikin

General description

The Bronze Mannikin is one of the smallest munia species. The adult is a compact bird with a short black tail and stubby black and pale grey mandibles.

It is black to brownish black on the head, chin, throat and center of the chest, with some purple-green iridescence on the face and sides of the breast.

It has greyish brown upper parts and white underparts with irregular barring on the flanks and rump.

A small green iridescent patch is present on the outer scapular feathers.

The sexes are similar.

Immature birds are pale brown above with buff head and underpart plumage.

This species has a number of calls including a rreep-rreeep in flight, a twittering when perched, consisting of various wheezy or buzzing notes. The song is a concatenated and somewhat repetitive series of notes.

Name & classification

Scientific name:
Spermestes cucullata

Common names:
Bronze Mannikin (English)
Gewone Fret (Afrikaans)

Lonchura cucullata

Roberts VII english name:
Bronze Mannikin

Roberts VII scientific name:
Spermestes cucullatus

Waxbills, Munias and Allies (Estrildidae)

Further information



The Bronze Mannikin feeds mainly on seeds, including wild grass seeds, millet, rice and grain.

Alternatively termites, nectar or strands of algae may also be eaten.

Before going to roost at nightfall, they usually visit a watering hole where vegetation is hanging into the water. They roost at night in ball-shaped nests, which in the non-breeding season are built solely for this purpose. These slovenly communal roosting nests are dismantled (for reuse of material) and rebuilt almost daily at the same or a new location, in a communal effort. Each party, numbering 8 to 20 birds, seems to be dominated by a single adult male.

The flock defends the immediate vicinity of a nest against intruders, but newcomers to a flock are easily accepted. They may associate with waxbill or other mannikin species, and may also use their vacated nests.

Pairs often allopreen.

They are incessant nest builders that may raise up to four broods a year, given favourable circumstances. The nest is a large domed grass structure in a tree, into which 4 to 8 small, white eggs are laid. Incubation takes 12 days, and chicks fledge after three weeks, and are independent in another three weeks. The chicks are reared on soft green seeds and insects.

They frequent areas near water, including mesic savanna, thornveld, edges of Afromontane or lowland forests, second-growth, marshes and swamp edges, existing and abandoned cultivation, or in parks, gardens and orchards.

They occur commonly from sea level to about 1,500 m, but in the tropics they may be found sparsely up to 2,150 m. They may wander widely in search of food.

Can be confused with the Magpie Mannikin, but is smaller and more brownish with a smaller bill and hindneck is dark brown, not black.

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