Tag Archives: Nutmeg Mannikins

There’s more than one kind of bird feeder

A Common Waxbill feeds on cane grass seeds
A Common Waxbill feeds on cane grass seeds
A Common Waxbill feeds on cane grass seeds

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Feed the Birds.’ (See more responses here.) We don’t put bird feeders out here so I was going to go with a selection of birds feeding out and about. But a few days ago, I was reminded that, while we don’t put out bird feeders, it doesn’t mean we don’t have them around.

Right now, the cane grass bordering the property has gone to seed and has been attracting birds. Seeing them is one thing; getting photos another. The cane grass is up to 10 feet high and the little birds that feed on them are notoriously skittish and will take off in an instant. I’ve found my bathroom window to be a good spot for photography – as long as it’s clean! The window looks out at the level of a lot of seed heads, but they’re usually in motion because of the wind and the little birds working them over. And other stalks of cane grass swish back and forth, obscuring my view of the birds and playing havoc with my focusing.

However, I was lucky enough to get photos of two recent visitors. The top trio of photos show a Common Waxbill stripping a seed head that was nicely illuminated and in an open spot right across from the window. The bottom three show a Nutmeg Mannikin. This one hopped around more, but stayed long enough that I was able to get several photos.

Both waxbills and mannikins generally travel in small flocks. This waxbill was the only one I saw clearly, but I saw others flitting about and could hear them in the vicinity. The odd thing about the mannikin was that it was the only one I saw or heard. Also, as the sun went down, I went outside to see if I could get better shots from a different angle. This bird did not seem bothered by my presence. Normally, mannikins would disappear at my appearance (I don’t take it personally!). I suspect this one was a juvenile that was, hopefully temporarily, separated from the flock and hadn’t learned about the many dangers facing it.

Also posted in response to this month’s Becky’s Squares challenge theme of ‘Odd.’ See more responses here.

All kinds of backyard birds

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Backyard Birding.’ See more responses here. Also posted in response to Becky’s October Squares challenge theme of ‘Kind.’ See more responses here.

Almost all the birds I see in the backyard are fairly common, but no less interesting for that.

Nutmeg mannikin

Nutmeg mannikin (Lonchura punctulata) is also known as scaly-breasted munia and spice finch. They feed on grass seeds. Here, a mannikin is feeding on cane grass seeds. It will work its way up the stem until the whole plant is stripped and the farther up it goes, the more the stem bends.

Nutmeg mannikin

A nutmeg mannikin strips seeds off a stem of cane grass on the Big Island.
Nutmeg mannikins are often seen in flocks and are flighty birds. By this, I mean they’re the kind of bird that constantly flits around and gets farther away in the process. They feed on grass seeds, climbing up the stems and stripping the seeds off the ends.

In Hawaii, when cane grass (Pennisetum purpureum) goes to seed it’s a popular feast for a variety of birds. Here, one of a small group of nutmeg mannikins, busily plucks seeds off this stem before moving on for more.