Red avadavat

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Red avadavat
A pair of Red avadavat (Amandava amandava) Photograph by Shantanu Kuveskar.jpg
Left - male♂, right - female♀

Pair of A. amandava from Maharashtra, India

Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Estrildidae
Genus: Amandava
Species: A. amandava
Binomial name
Amandava amandava
(Linnaeus, 1758)
  • Estrilda amandava
  • Sporaeginthus amandava

The red avadavat, red munia or strawberry finch (Amandava amandava) is a sparrow-sized bird of the family Estrildidae. It is found in the open fields and grasslands of tropical Asia and is popular as a cage bird due to the colourful plumage of the males in their breeding season. It breeds in the Indian Subcontinent in the monsoon season. The species name of amandava and the common name of avadavat are derived from the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India, from where these birds were exported into the pet trade in former times.[2][3]


Female with red rump visible

This small finch is easily identified by the rounded black tail and the bill that is seasonally red. The rump is red and the breeding male is red on most of the upper parts except for a black eye-stripe, lower belly and wings. There are white spots on the red body and wing feathers. The non-breeding male is duller but has the red-rump while the female is duller with less of the white spotting on the feathers.[4][5]

Evolution and systematics[edit]

The red avadavat were earlier included in the genus Estrilda by Jean Delacour. This placement was followed for a while but morphological,[6] behavioural, biochemical[7] and DNA studies now support their separation in the genus Amandava.[8][9][10] The Estrildinae are thought to have evolved somewhere in the Indian plate and moving into the African and Pacific regions and it has been estimated that the red munia diverged from the green munia about 9 million years ago.[11]

Habitat and distribution[edit]

Red avadavats are found mainly on flat plains, in places with tall grasses or crops, often near water.[4] The species has four named populations. The nominate subspecies is found in Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan; the Burmese form has been called flavidiventris (also found in parts of China, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam);[12] the population further east in Java is called punicea and in Cambodia decouxi.[13][14][15][16]

Introduced populations exist in southern Spain,[17] Brunei, Fiji,[18] Egypt,[19] Malaysia, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Singapore and Hawaii.[20][21]

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

This finch is usually seen in small flocks,[22] flying with rapid wingbeats and descending into grass clumps where they are hard to observe. Pairs stay together during the breeding season.[23] These birds produce a distinctive low single note pseep call that is often given in flight. The song is a series of low notes.[24] Birds of a flock will preen each other, ruffling their head feathers in invitation.[25] They feed mainly on grass seeds but will also take insects such as termites when they are available.[26]

They build a globular nest made of grass blades. The usual clutch is about five or six white eggs.[27]

The beak begins to turn red in May and darkens during November and December. The beak then turns rapidly to black in April and the cycle continues.[28] These seasonal cycles are linked to seasonal changes in daylength.[29]

Two ectoparasitic species of bird lice (an ischnoceran, Brueelia amandavae, and an amblyceran, Myrsidea amandava) have been identified living on them[30] and a paramyxovirus has been isolated from birds kept in Japan.[31][32]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Amandava amandava". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Pittie A (2004). "A dictionary of scientific bird names originating from the Indian region". Buceros. 9 (2). 
  3. ^ Yule H (1886). Hobson-Jobson:A glossary of Anglo-Indian colloquial words and phrases. John Murray. p. 30. 
  4. ^ a b Rasmussen PC & JC Anderton (2005). Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Volume 2. Smithsonian Institution & Lynx Edicions. p. 572. 
  5. ^ Whistler, Hugh (1949). Popular Handbook of Indian Birds. Gurney and Jackson. pp. 216–217. 
  6. ^ Harrison, C.J.O. (1962). "The affinities of the Red Avadavat, Amandava amandava (Linn.)". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 82: 126–132. 
  7. ^ Christidis, L (1987). "Biochemical systematics within Palaeotropic finches (Aves: Estrildidae)" (PDF). The Auk. 104 (3): 380–392. doi:10.2307/4087534. JSTOR 4087534. 
  8. ^ Harrison, CJO (1962). "An ethological comparison of some waxbills (Estrildini), and its relevance to their taxonomy". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. 139 (2): 261–282. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1962.tb01830.x. 
  9. ^ Delacour, Jean (1943). "A revision of the subfamily Estrildinae of the family Ploceidae". Zoologica. 28: 69–86. 
  10. ^ Webster, J D (2007). "Skeletal characters and the systematics of Estrildid finches (Aves:Estrildidae)". Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science. 116 (1): 90–107. 
  11. ^ Arnaiz-Villena, A; Ruiz-del-Valle V; Gomez-Prieto P; Reguera R; Parga-Lozano C; Serrano-Vela I (2009). "Estrildinae Finches (Aves, Passeriformes) from Africa, South Asia and Australia: a Molecular Phylogeographic Study" (PDF). The Open Ornithology Journal. 2: 29–36. doi:10.2174/1874453200902010029. 
  12. ^ Baker, E.C.S. (1921). "The birds of the Indian Empire: Hand-list of the "Birds of India", Part 3". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 27 (4): 692–744. 
  13. ^ Oates, EW (1890). Fauna of British India. Birds. Volume 2. Taylor and Francis, London. pp. 192–193. 
  14. ^ Deignan, H.G. (1963). "Checklist of the birds of Thailand". United States National Museum Bulletin. 226: 216. 
  15. ^ Paynter RA (Ed) (1968). Check-list of the birds of the world. 14. Museum of Comparative Zoology. pp. 348–349. 
  16. ^ Baker ECS (1926). Fauna of British India. Birds. Volume 3 (2nd ed.). Taylor and Francis. pp. 95–97. 
  17. ^ De Lope F.; Guerrero J.; De La Cruz C. (1984). "Une nouvelle espèce à classer parmi les oiseaux de la Péninsule Ibérique: Estrilda (Amandava) amandava L. (Ploceidae, Passeriformes)" [A new species for the Iberian Peninsula: Estrilda (Amandava) amandava L. (Ploceidae, Passeriformes)]. Alauda. 52 (4). 
  18. ^ Langham, NPE (1987). "The Annual Cycle of the Avadavat Amandava amandava in Fiji". Emu. 87 (4): 232–243. doi:10.1071/MU9870232. 
  19. ^ Nicoll, MJ (1919). Handlist of the birds of Egypt. Government Press, Cairo. p. 30. 
  20. ^ Barre N.; Benito-Espinal E. (1985). "Oiseaux granivores exotiques implantés en Guadeloupe, à Marie-Galante et en Martinique (Antilles françaises)" [Seed eating exotic birds established in Guadeloupe, Marie Galante and in Martinique (French West Indies)]. L'Oiseau et la Revue française d'Ornithologie. 55 (3): 235–241. 
  21. ^ Ticehurst, CB (1930). "The Amandavat (Aamandava amandava) in Mesopotamia". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 34 (2): 576. 
  22. ^ Evans, SM (1970). "Some factors affecting the flock behaviour of red avadavats (Amandava amandava) with particular reference to clumping". Animal Behaviour. 18 (4): 762–767. doi:10.1016/0003-3472(70)90025-4. 
  23. ^ Sparks, J.H. (1964). "Flock structure of the Red Avadavat with particular references to clumping and allopreening". J. Anim. Behaviour. 12: 125–126. doi:10.1016/0003-3472(64)90113-7. 
  24. ^ Ali S & SD Ripley (1999). Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan. 10 (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 106–108. 
  25. ^ Sparks, John H. (1965). "On the role of allopreening invitation behaviour in reducing aggression among red avadavats, with comments on its evolution in the Spermestidae". Journal of Zoology. 145 (3): 387. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7998.1965.tb02024.x. 
  26. ^ Inglis, CM (1910). "Note on the Spotted Munia (Uroloncha punctulata) and the Indian Red Munia (Sporaeginthus amandava)". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 20 (2): 517–518. 
  27. ^ Hume, AO (1890). The nests and eggs of Indian Birds. 2. R H Porter, London. pp. 147–149. 
  28. ^ Thapliyal, JP & BBP Gupta (1984). "Thyroid and annual gonad development, body weight, plumage pigmentation, and bill color cycles of Lal Munia, Estrilda amandava". Gen. Comp. Endocrinology. 55 (1): 20–28. doi:10.1016/0016-6480(84)90124-2. PMID 6745630. 
  29. ^ Subramanian, P & R Subbaraj (1989). "Seasonal changes in the timing of hopping and feeding activities of a tropical bird (Estrilda amandava) under natural photoperiod". Proc. Indian Acad. Sci. (Anim. Sci.). 98 (2): 89–93. doi:10.1007/BF03179631. 
  30. ^ Gupta, N.; Kumar, S.; Saxena, A.K. (2007). "Prevalence and population structure of lice (Phthiraptera) on the Indian Red Avadavat". Zoological Science. 24 (4): 381–383. doi:10.2108/zsj.24.000. PMID 17867828. 
  31. ^ Matsuoka, Y; H Kida & R Yanagawa (1980). "A new paramyxovirus isolated from an Amaduvade Finch (Estrilda amandava)" (PDF). Jpn. J. Vet. Sci. 42 (2): 161–167. doi:10.1292/jvms1939.42.161. 
  32. ^ Rékási, J. & Saxena, A. K. (2005). "A new Phthiraptera species (Philopteridae) from the Red Avadavat (Amandava amandava)" (PDF). Aquila. 112: 87–93. 

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