Lonchura bicolor nigriceps
Rufous Backed Munia, Chestnut Backed Mannikin
Mutations: None known
Length: Approx. 90 mm (a Zebra Finch is approximately 100 mm)
Colour: Refer photo/s
Weight: Approx. 10 - 12 gms
Juveniles: dusky grey-brown with a brownish back. Adult plumage is attained at about 2 - 3 months.
Sexing: Monomorphic : Males and females are identical in appearance. Russell Kingston states in "Keeping and Breeding Finches and Seedeaters" that RBMs can be sexed by the rump feathers. Males will have bolder, unbroken stripes compared to females. This is in addition to head and bill shape indicators that are often used in mannikins (broader, rounder heads and bills being indicative of males). However, this is not always easy to do in a large aviary so like most members of the Lonchura family the best way of sexing them is by observation. The males will generally crow or sing from an early age. This is not perfect as some young hens will imitate their fathers. By ringing birds early and observing you can soon figure out what sex they are.
Housing: They like tall grasses, shrubs and bamboo in their aviary however they may defoliate plants if too many are housed in the aviary. Success when housed in a cage is rare.
Mix: Although they can be kept with other finches, only one pair should be housed per aviary. They breed well as a colony in a suitably sized aviary. RBMs are mostly tolerant and peaceful birds, but very shy. Rufous backed Mannikins are natural colony breeders and enjoy the company of others of their own species. They are often described as “unpredictable”. They are usually docile and peaceful but sometimes they can be downright murderous to ANY species so care should be taken when housing in a mixed aviary. It is my opinion that this aggressiveness if bought on when they are over crowded and under stress. They are a hardy, long lived bird reaching ages of 7-8 in captivity.
Never Mix with: Other members of the Lonchura family as they will hybridise
Feeding: a good quality finch mix, seeding grasses, some fruits and lots of green food, particularly half ripe seeds. Minimal live food required at breeding time. Sprouted or soaked seed is enjoyed. RBMs spend little time on the ground. They love wild rice.
Basic Breeding Info: Generally breed well all year round but September to early March is preferable. RBMs will build a nest in a shrub or dry brush. Equally they will build a nest in a wide variety of artificial nests including half open nest boxes. Both parents build a dome shaped nest made from green or dry grasses. The nest is lined with soft fine grasses and other soft materials including feathers. They will also build a roosting nest.
Average Clutch Size: 3 to 7 white eggs
Clutches per year: 3 no need to restrict after 3
Incubation Period: 14 days
Leave nest: 21 days. May return to the nest after they fledge.
Independent: 3-4 weeks. It is generally best to remove the young from the parent birds as soon as the young are fully independent so as to avoid possible aggression from parents.
Parenting: They are generally good parents. Pair bonding is strong.
Nest inspection: Moderate nest inspection is generally tolerated.
Sexually mature: 6 months however best breeding results are between 2nd - 6th years
Health Issues: Problems with over-grown toenails; easily stressed.
Approximate cost per pair in Australia:
New South Wales: $100
South Australia: $120
Western Australia: UNKNOWN