This year’s monsoon was in full swing. That Sunday, when the rain had stopped briefly I saw a large group of Munias gregariously venturing out savoring the newly sprouted grass seeds. The group consisted of both Scaly-breasted Munia (Lonchura punctulata) & White-rumped Munia (Lonchura striata) in them. Even though they were two different species there was no difference in their pecking order nor there was any compitetive fight among them. There were over 40 birds in that group. I used my Canon EOS 1D Mark IV with Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM fitted with Canon EF 1.4x III Extender to capture them. As they were jumping around from bush to bush searching for the tender grass seeds, it was difficult to focus on individual birds. The energy level of these birds are tremendous and they were never stationary.
I could approach them quite close and they were not shy of me. But even at such a close quarters all the photos I got were having a bad background. They were grazing in the midst of clumps of grass. This created a difficult situation where blades of grass were in front as well behind the bird distracting the picture.I was looking for a bird who is sitting slightly away from the group on a twig which did not have a close enough bush so that I can get a nice creamy bokeh. After chasing them for over an hour I could get a few good enough photographs.
Photographing any subject we need to per-visualize the final result. Most of the time we are so engrossed with the subject we tend to forget the foreground as well as the background. For a good photograph all these aspects of the photograph also need to be in place. Nature photography which does not allow you to control most of these parameters, too needs to be confirming to this rule. This is true even though it is much more difficult to achieve in Nature photography than other types of photography.
The White-rumped Munia or White-rumped Mannikin (Lonchura striata), sometimes called Striated Finch in aviculture, is a small passerine bird from the family of waxbill “finches” (Estrildidae). These are close relatives of the true finches (Fringillidae) and true sparrows (Passeridae).
It is native to tropical continental Asia and some adjacent islands, and has been naturalized in spome parts of Japan. Its domesticated hybrid descendant, the Society Finch or Bengalese Finch, is found worldwide as a pet and a biological model organism.
The White-rumped Munia is approximately 10 to 11 cm in length, with a stubby grey bill and a long black pointed tail. The adults are brown above and on the breast, and lighter below; the rump is white. There is some variation between the subspecies, but the sexes are almost impossible to distinguish in all subspecies; males have a more bulky head and bill.
The White-rumped Munia is a common resident breeder ranging from South Asia to southern China east to Taiwan, and through Southeast Asia south to Sumatra; it frequents open woodland, grassland and scrub, and is well able to adapt to agricultural land use. It is a gregarious bird which feeds mainly on seeds, moving through the undergrowth in groups. The nest is a large domed grass structure in a tree, bush or grass into which 3-8 white eggs are laid. They are often found near water and have been observed feeding on algae. It has been suggested that they obtain protein from their diet of algae often in the species Spirogyra, which grows in paddy fields.
It is a common and widespread bird across its large range, and is thus not considered a threatened species by the IUCN. In fact, it may locally become a nuisance pest of millets and similar grains.
The Scaly-breasted Munia or Spotted Munia (Lonchura punctulata) known in the pet trade as Nutmeg Mannikin or Spice Finch is a sparrow-sized estrildid finch native to tropical Asia extending from India and Sri Lanka east to Indonesia and the Philippines. It has been introduced into many other parts of the world and has established in Puerto Rico and Hispaniola as well as parts of Australia and the United States of America. They are found in open habitats including gardens and agricultural fields where they forage in groups for grass seeds.
The Scaly-breasted Munia is 11–12 cm long. The adult has a stubby dark bill, brown upperparts and darker brown head. The underparts are white with black scale markings. The sexes are similar, although males have darker markings on the underside and a darker throat. Immature birds have pale brown upperparts, lack the darker head and with uniform buff underparts can be confused with immatures of other munias such as the Tricoloured Munia.
Scaly-breasted Munias are found in a range of habitas but are usually close to water and grassland. In India, they are especially common in paddy fields where they are considered a minor pest on account of their grain feeding. They are found mainly on the plains but are found in the foothills of the Himalayas although sometimes found up to an altitude of 2500 m and in the Nilgiris they are found in summer up to 2100 m. In Pakistan they are restricted to a narrow region from Swat in the west to Lahore avoiding the desert zone and occurring again in India east of a line between Ludhiana and Mount Abu.It is rare in Kashmir.
Outside their native range, escaped birds frequently establish themselves in areas with suitable climate. Escaped or introduced populations have been recorded in the West Indies (Puerto Rico since 1971), Hawaii, Australia, Japan and southern United States mainly in Florida and California. In Oahu, Hawaii, they compete for habitats with Lonchura malacca and tend to be rare where the latter is present.
The Scaly-breasted Munia is a small gregarious bird which feeds mainly on seeds but also takes small berries of Lantana and other plants. They sometimes form large flocks of as many as 100 birds. Like some other munias, they sometimes feed on algae. They sometimes flick the tail while hopping about. The tail may be flicked laterally and sometimes vertically and will sometimes flick their wings as well. When roosting, they will set in close contact with each other. Birds in a flock will sometimes preen each other. The soliciting bird usually showing its chin. Allopreening is usually limited to just the face and neck. The breeding season is during the rainy season (mainly June to August in India) but can breed at other times.
The calls include a short whistle, variations on kitty-kitty-kitty and a sharp chipping alarm note. The song of the male is very soft but complex and variable and is audible only at close range. This song described as a jingle consists of a series of high notes followed by a croaky rattle and ending in slurred whistle. When singing the male sits very erect with the head feathers raised. The nest is a large domed structure made of loose grass, bamboo or other leaves with a side entrance and placed in a tree or under the eaves of a house.