It’s around us. Nesting on canopies, perching on electric cables, flying with dry grass on their beaks, crossing the paddy fields, pecking the rice seeds to the annoyment of the farmers. Javan Munias are most chattering when a flock gathers on a dense tree, from which they’ve gained many local nicknames: pipit, pi’it, emprit. They are living side by side with humans, so literally, they’re everywhere.
This species is very commonly found in western part of Indonesia, distributed from southern Sumatra, Java, Bali, to Lombok. It’s also being introduced in Singapore. Like all munias, Javan Munias have a habit of visiting all types of agricultural land and natural grassland. When harvest time comes, they separate themselves to flocks, scouting from trees, preparing to pick the yellowing panicles.
Farmers had to install various barriers to repel the agile and voracious Javan Munias and other types of grain-eating birds, from scarecrow to stretch of plastic ropes. But, despite the efforts, the birds not only aim for the panicles, but also grains on the ground and grass.
Being categorized as a pest, Javan Munia—and its cousins Scaly-breasted Munia and White-headed Munia—are often massively captured during harvest season for trading. A lot of them are groomed with colours to attract children passing by the market. With IDR 5000, a bird can be a children's fun playmate.
However, behind the fun and benefits of the bird trade, a threat lurks the large population of the Javan Munia. Because it has a habit of gathering in large groups in shady trees during the harvest season, this bird is an easy target for hunters because one trap can catch many individuals. Once it reaches the market, Javan Munia is selling like mushrooms in the rainy season.
The population of Javan Munia is also pressured by the loss of green area, in particular in urban areas far from paddy fields. Although known as a species that has good adaptability, the loss of green areas reduces the source of food trees.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature assesses that the Javan Munia population is still relatively stable. However, if poaching, trading, loss of green area and long conflict with humans keep happening, the extinction threat of this hardworking bird might be stalking from a very close distance (MEI).
Download the May 2018 edition wallpaper: Javan Munia
Important fact: Out of 10.000 bird species in the world, Indonesia is a home for 1.769 wild birds. Discovering the various types of birds and their services for the environment is a way of appreciating the biodiversity richness of Indonesia.