With a widespread natural distribution in many parts of south-eastern and southern Asia, the Nutmeg Mannikin does not occur naturally in Australia. It was first introduced into Australia in the 1920s and 1930s, and has since become established in eastern Queensland and New South Wales. They are occasionally recorded elsewhere in suburban Melbourne and Adelaide, but those birds are considered aviary escapees, and have not established feral populations. There is one report from Ashmore Reef, which may have been a bird that flew in from Indonesia.
The Nutmeg Mannikin is an introduced species. Popular as a caged bird, some escaped or were released into the wild in Sydney and Brisbane in the 1930s. It is a small plump finch with a dark brown face and throat, The upper body is chestnut brown and the underparts are white with dark brown scalloping, while the legs, feet and the large, deep bill are grey. Juveniles are paler above and buff-brown below. The Nutmeg Mannikin flicks its wings and sways its tail constantly. It is usually seen in small flocks. This species is also known as the Spice Finch.
A variety of calls but usually a ‘Ki-ki-te-te’ with the first part almost inaudible.
Nutmeg Mannikins are commonly found from North Queensland to Sydney along the east coast. They are native to South Asia, ranging from India to southern China and south-east into the Phillipines and Indochina.
The Nutmeg Mannikin lives in reeds, grasses and especially in the crops around farms. It is also often around disturbed areas and vacant blocks.
The Nutmeg Mannikin has become a scavenger around farms and garbage dumps and has been known to pick the flesh of road kill
Although their usual diet is half ripe seeds, the Nutmeg Mannikin has become a scavenger around farms and garbage dumps and has been known to pick the flesh of road kill. Very few insects are eaten. Nutmeg Mannikins forage on the ground or hangs from stems to eat seeds.
Nutmeg Mannikins are very social and more than one female may lay eggs in a nest. The nests are spherical and made of green grass and sometimes pieces of bark. The nests are usually built in the centre of shrubs and trees, but they have been known to use the eaves of buildings. Both parents construct the nest and share incubation and the care of young.