The non-native non-migratory Nutmeg Mannikin, also known as the Scaly-breasted Munia or the Spice Finch, has been added to the California Bird Records Committee State List. The listing has proved somewhat controversial, as the species is endemic to Asia.
Reports place the first discovered “wild” birds as three young ﬂedglings in a nest at Cocoa Beach, Florida in 1964 (OGDEN, J. C., AND H. M. STEVENSON. 1965. Regional reports: Florida Region. Audubon Field Notes 19:534-37), the species was, and continues to be a popular pet store bird and the “wild” birds most likely the offspring of escaped caged birds. In California, the species is prominent in the river drainages of Los Angeles and Orange counties (National Geographic Society. 1999. Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 3rd. ed. Natl. Geogr. Soc., Washington). The bird’s status as a companion was likely decided by its social behavior which is often described as gregarious, which coincidentally often prompts the bird to seek escape. The listing is causing excitement and a healthy discussion about the place of introduced species in the world of birding. Merely visit the Cal Birds list serve thread to note the differences of opinion.
Birder Doug A. of San Diego may have summed up the controversy best when he said, “But with all things, the CBRC and ABA only have the power, when you’re willing to let them have it. So you can make up your own State list if you wish to. ”
Photo by Mike’s Birds