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A photo of a Indian Silverbill (Euodice malabarica)
Indian Silverbill

Indian Silverbill

Euodice malabarica

The Indian silverbill, or white-throated munia, is a diminutive passerine bird adorned with a conical silver-grey bill. It boasts buff-brown upperparts and pristine white underparts, with buffy flanks and a contrasting dark plumage on its wings. The rump is a striking white, and the tail is a deep black. The tail feathers taper in length from the center outwards, giving it a pointed appearance. Both sexes share a similar plumage, while the juveniles can be distinguished by their buff underparts and shorter tails.

Identification Tips

When attempting to identify the Indian silverbill, look for its silver-grey bill and the stark contrast between its white rump and dark wings. The bird measures approximately 11 to 11.5 cm in length. The pointed tail and the uniform coloration of adults versus the buff tones in juveniles are also key identification markers.

Habitat

The Indian silverbill is a bird of dry, open habitats. It is commonly found in scrublands, fallow fields, and areas of cultivation, sometimes venturing near bodies of water. It is a species that thrives in the plains but can also be encountered up to elevations of around 1200 meters in certain sub-Himalayan regions.

Distribution

This species is native to the Indian Subcontinent and parts of the Middle East. Its range extends across Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Iran, and Israel. The Indian silverbill has also been introduced to other parts of the world, where it has successfully established populations in countries such as Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United States, and parts of southern France.

Behaviour

Indian silverbills are sociable creatures, often seen in flocks that can number up to 60 individuals. They forage primarily on the ground or among low shrubs and grasses. A distinctive trait is their constant, soft cheeping or chirping calls as they move about in search of food. They exhibit a rapid sip-and-swallow technique when drinking water.

Song & Calls

The Indian silverbill communicates with a soft, cheeping or chirping sound, which serves as a contact call within the flock.

Breeding

Breeding seasons for the Indian silverbill vary by region, with southern India seeing nests in winter and northern India after the summer. Their nests are rather untidy balls of grass with a side entrance, often placed in thorny Acacia shrubs. They have also been known to utilize old nests of baya weavers and sometimes build beneath the platform nests of larger birds such as vultures or storks. The species is known for intraspecific nest parasitism, where females lay eggs in the nests of other pairs. Clutches typically contain 4 to 8 white eggs, incubated by both parents for about 11 days. Helpers may also assist in the nesting process.

Similar Species

The Indian silverbill could potentially be confused with other small, seed-eating birds in its range, but its distinctive bill color, white rump, and habitat preferences help differentiate it.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Indian silverbill is predominantly seed-based, including a variety of grass seeds and occasionally crop species. They have also been observed feeding on insects and visiting nectar-bearing flowers, such as those of Erythrina trees.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the Indian silverbill as Least Concern, indicating that the species does not currently face any significant threats to its survival.

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