Black-and-white Mannikin (Spermestes bicolor)

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Black-and-white Mannikin
Spermestes bicolor
Black-and-white Mannikin (Spermestes bicolor)
Name Black-and-white Mannikin
Name Lat. Spermestes bicolor
Synonym Lonchura bicolor
Family Estrildid Finches
Family lat. Estrildidae
Order Perching Birds
Order lat. Passeriformes
Origin Africa
Climate Tropical
Diet Exotic Birds seed, plant matter, insects
Keeping Pair, group
Care Level Easy
Reproduction Cup nest
Life Span 5-10 years
Protection No
Metric Units
Size 9 cm
Temperature Room temperature
Housing 80 x 40 x 40 cm
US Units
Size 3.5"
Temperature Room temperature
Housing 30" x 15" x 15"

Distribution and habitat

The range of the Glossy Magpie extends from The Gambia through southern Senegal to western Cameroon, where they occur in steppes, savannas, as well as sparse woodlands, swamps, and riparian vegetation, sometimes also as cultivars.

Cage size

The minimum cage size is 80 x 40 x 40 cm (L x W x H) for a pair. The cage size must not be undercut even in case of justified single keeping. For another 2-3 birds, species compatibility provided, the floor space must be increased by 25%. The cage must be placed in a bright, draught-free and quiet place at a height of at least 80 cm (except aviaries), have a rectangular base and be opaque on three sides, aviaries on one side. Keeping in an aviary is preferable.


The floor must be covered with sand, wood granulate, bark mulch or similar material and must be cleaned regularly. At least 3 perches made of wood or branches of varying thickness and height must be installed in such a way that they can only be reached by flying and that the longest possible flight distance is created. They need a bathing opportunity as well as biotope-like hiding, sleeping and nesting possibilities. It is recommended to provide them with grasses and bushes. The room temperature should not fall below 15 °C.


The species-specific food supply consists of mixed seeds, available in specialized trade as "exotic food" in premium quality, in addition foxtail millet (also semi-ripe), germinated seeds (green panicle millet, semi-ripe grass panicles or chickweed,) and especially for rearing young egg food, insects and insect larvae (skinned, cut up mealybug larvae, ant pupae, small Buffalos, Pinkies,). Charcoal, vitamine lime and shell grit are needed as digestive aids. Drinking water must always be available in birdbaths or in stable, open containers. Food and water must be offered fresh daily, and the containers must be cleaned beforehand.

A varied diet promotes health and prevents deficiency symptoms.

Sex dimorphism

Both sexes are colored the same, the female may be distinguished by more delicate bill and rounder head shape.

Reproduction and breeding

They like to nest in biotope-like facilities such as wicker nests (bionesters) and semi-open nest boxes of medium size, or freely in the branches (e.g. broom, bamboo, reeds). The nesting material consists of coconut fibers, sisal, grasses of all kinds, as well as sharpie, and feathers for padding. The clutch consists of 4 to 5 eggs, the incubation period is about 13 days. The breeding season, biologically, is often in the winter months from October to May. When breeding, the room temperature should be at least 18 °C.


They must not be kept in a round cage. An aviary is required for swarm keeping

In the case of outdoor aviary keeping, they also require a heated shelter with a floor area of at least 1 m² and a height of 1.70 m, which can be visited by the birds at any time. The temperature in the shelter must not fall below 15 °C and the furnishings must correspond to those of cage keeping

They may only be kept in pairs or in a group or flock.

Sufficient daylight or flicker-free artificial light (stroboscopic effect) corresponding to daylight must be provided in rooms, including shelters. The lighting duration shall be 8-14 hours per day and the natural day-night rhythm shall be observed. Adequate indoor climate shall be provided. The health condition of the birds shall be checked daily

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: Othmar Sieberer; Image: Franz Lowak

Source: BMELV (1995): Tierschutzgutachten - Mindestanforderungen an die Haltung von Kleinvögeln; BIELFELD (1996): Das Prachtfinken-Buch, Verlag Eugen Ulmer; GRUMMT & STREHLOW (2009): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Vögel, Verlag Harri Deutsch

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF