Grey-banded Mannikin Lonchura vana


Justification of Red List Category
This little-known species is only known from one location, qualifying it as Vulnerable. If it proves to be declining, for instance through agricultural conversion of its naturally scarce and fragmented habitat, then it would be reclassified as Critically Endangered, but further research may show it to occur at other sites in this very poorly known area.

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number no more than 10,000 individuals, and so it is placed in the band 2,500-9,999 individuals. This equates to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
There is insufficient information to infer population trends for this species. However, there is no evidence of any factors currently threatening the population, so it is suspected to be stable.

Distribution and population

Lonchura vana is endemic to the Arfak Mountains in the Vogelkop Peninsula in north-west Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), Indonesia (Hoogerwerf 1971, Beehler et al. 1986). It is poorly known, but could be restricted to a single location - grasslands around the lake Anggi Gigi (D. Gibbs in litt. 2000). Other reports that it occurs elsewhere in the Arfaks, such as the Tamrau Mountains (Hoogerwerf 1971, Beehler et al. 1986) appear to be unsubstantiated, and there are no records from around the neighbouring lake, Anggi Gite. Its possible occurrence elsewhere is limited by the scarcity of its habitat (N. Bostock in litt. 1993, D. Gibbs in litt. 1994). However, the Arfaks have not been well-explored and it may prove to occur elsewhere (K. D. Bishop in litt. 2000).


It is a shy inhabitant of mid-mountain wet grassland and marshland, where it has only been recorded between 1,900 m and 2,000 m (Hoogerwerf 1971, Beehler et al. 1986, Restall 1996). Small flocks have been seen on low weeds in recently abandoned agricultural plots, sometimes near human settlements, but at that time the species was strangely enough not found on the wide plains covered with high grasses and similar vegetation, round the Anggi Lakes (Hoogerwerf 1971), perhaps suggesting seasonal variation in habitat use.


Its naturally scarce habitat has been reported to be suffering some drainage for conversion to agriculture (D. Gibbs in litt. 1994). However, it has been recorded on agricultural land and may be able to survive in this habitat (Hoogerwerf 1971). Although it has been reported in the international cage-bird trade, the Arfaks are very remote and this is likely to have been a misidentification (Restall 1996).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation actions are known. The Pegunungan Arfak Nature Reserve in the Arfak Mountains may support suitable habitat (Sujatnika et al. 1995).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Identify and survey suitable habitat in north-east Papua to establish its range, distribution and population status. Assess its habitat requirements and threats. Monitor numbers at Anggi Gigi. Incorporate key wet grassland and marshland sites, especially Anggi Gigi, into the protected-areas system. Establish whether the Pegunungan Arfak Nature Reserve supports the species.


10 cm. Pale-headed munia. Grey head, brownish-grey breast, narrow, grey lower breast-band, rufous-brown belly, dark brown mantle and wings, and pale yellow rump and tail. Similar spp. Other pale-headed munias elsewhere in New Guinea have different pattern to underparts. On Vogelkop, Streak-headed Munia L. tristissima is all dark except for yellowish rump and uppertail-coverts, and inhabits lowland forest edge. Voice High, thin ts ts ts ... Hints Search wet grasslands and different agricultural crops beside Anggi Gigi.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Gilroy, J., Taylor, J.

Bostock, N., Bishop, K., Gibbs, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Lonchura vana. Downloaded from on 14/07/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 14/07/2020.