View Full Version : White-rumped Munia (Lonchura striata) feeding on green Algae

Samrat Sarkar
20-07-2015, 01:21 PM
Very close to where I live I have seen nests of different kinds of birds in the monsoon periods; specially, in front of our house a flock of White rumped Munia (WRM) make their nests every year, sometimes on deodar trees, sometimes on plantations of pointed gourds (parwal), in the boxes hanging from electric poles etc. Today I will post some pictures on the feeding behavior of these WRMs. The WRMs feed mainly on grass seeds, on young bamboo shoots etc. They feed their nestlings small insects; but they eat another food regularly on the basis of availability- that is green algae (Spirogyra SP.). Mr. Salim Ali has also mentioned this in his famous book (Pillai, JBHNS, 65:490). This is obviously a rather unusual feeding habit of the WRMs. It is heard that they feed on the green algae to meet their regular protein requirements. But I am not confident that the WRM seen here feeding is spirogyra or not, but it certainly is an algae.

Out of about ten birds I have exactly identified a particular WRM with a visible white distinguishable spot just below its left ear.
Date - 19.07.15
Equipment used Canon 7D + Canon 500mm f4 + Monopod

Picture 1

Samrat Sarkar
20-07-2015, 01:23 PM
WRM touched water with its beak

Samrat Sarkar
20-07-2015, 01:25 PM
WRM dipped its beak

Samrat Sarkar
20-07-2015, 01:27 PM
WRM pulled out algae from water

Samrat Sarkar
20-07-2015, 01:29 PM
WRM shaked the algae

Samrat Sarkar
20-07-2015, 01:31 PM
WRM swallowing algae

Samrat Sarkar
20-07-2015, 01:33 PM
WRM swallowed algae

Mrudul Godbole
20-07-2015, 02:40 PM
Lovely series of photographs showing its feeding habits. The low angle enhances the images. Nice record. Thanks for sharing.

Sabyasachi Patra
21-07-2015, 07:23 PM
Interesting observation. Most of the bird books focus on identification and not on food habits etc. I have an old Salim Ali's "The Book of Indian Birds" twelfth edition and it only mentions that white rumped munia feeds on seeds etc. The Ripley's Guide by Pamela C. Rasmussen and John C. Anderton is silent about food habits.

There are many spirogyra species of algae in the world. When you find a slimy like green thickly matted substances giving a green colouration to water of ponds and other water bodies, then you know that you have found a spirogyra species. I don't have exact idea about the particular species that the munia is eating. Thanks for your observations. How often do they eat this in a day?

Samrat Sarkar
03-08-2015, 12:46 PM
Thanks lot Mrudul ji for your appreciating words...
Sabyasachi da
As per your description and informations received for other sources, the Algae is Spyrogira SP. Yet I decided to send a specimen of the same to a local lab to find out the exact identification. As I observed, they come to that ditch twice a day to eat Algae.
Eventually I managed to collect an old research paper by Mr. Avery M.L written in 1975 over feeding Algae by munias. In that paper he mentioned that Munias often eat Algae, specially in breeding season to keep themselves physiologically fit. "Field observations and stomach analyses showed that the munias ate rice and the green filamentous alga, Spirogyra, almost exclusively. The primary periods of algae eating occurred in January and June-August, coinciding with the munias' two peak periods of reproductive activity, as determined by gonadal examination. Apparently munias on the study area ate Spirogyra as a source of protein to enable them to become physiologically ready for breeding, much as other tropical bird species eat insects"
MARDI Rice Research Center, Bumbong Lima, Province Wellesley, Malaysia.

Sandipan Ghosh
03-08-2015, 06:03 PM
Wonderful information with great photographs....Dada

Samrat Sarkar
05-08-2015, 01:21 PM
thank you sandipan..