Nutmeg Mannikin

Did you know?

The Nutmeg Mannikin was introduced into Sydney and Brisbane in the late 1920s or early 1930s.

A variety of calls but usually a 'Ki-ki-te-te' with the first part almost inaudible.
Facts and Figures
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Breeding season: 
October to April
Clutch Size: 
Four to eight.
12 days
Nestling Period: 
20 days
Conservation Status
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The Nutmeg Mannikin is an introduced species. Popular as a caged bird, some escaped or were released into the wild in Sydney and Brisbane in the 1930s. It is a small plump finch with a dark brown face and throat, The upper body is chestnut brown and the underparts are white with dark brown scalloping, while the legs, feet and the large, deep bill are grey. Juveniles are paler above and buff-brown below. The Nutmeg Mannikin flicks its wings and sways its tail constantly. It is usually seen in small flocks. This species is also known as the Spice Finch.

Similar species: 

The Nutmeg Mannikin often associates with the Chestnut-breasted MannikinL. castaneothorax, and is similar in size, but stockier and heavier with a longer tail. The juveniles of both species are quite similar in colour. It is much smaller than sparrows, Passer sp.

Where does it live?

Nutmeg Mannikins are commonly found from North Queensland to Sydney along the east coast. They are native to South Asia, ranging from India to southern China and south-east into the Phillipines and Indochina.


The Nutmeg Mannikin lives in reeds, grasses and especially in the crops around farms. It is also often around disturbed areas and vacant blocks.

What does it do?

Although their usual diet is half ripe seeds, the Nutmeg Mannikin has become a scavenger around farms and garbage dumps and has been known to pick the flesh of road kill. Very few insects are eaten. Nutmeg Mannikins forage on the ground or hangs from stems to eat seeds.


Nutmeg Mannikins are very social and more than one female may lay eggs in a nest. The nests are spherical and made of green grass and sometimes pieces of bark. The nests are usually built in the centre of shrubs and trees, but they have been known to use the eaves of buildings. Both parents construct the nest and share incubation and the care of young.

Living with us

European settlement has favoured the Nutmeg Mannikin. This is an introduced bird which has become established and poses a threat to the native finches through competition.

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