All About Yellow-rumped Mannikin

Yellow-rumped Mannikin

Housing in Yellow-rumped Mannikin

Whether opting for breeding from a single pair or a small/large colony, you need have no fears when introducing Yellow-rumps into your aviary. Personally, I’ve found they do better as a minicolony of 3–4 pairs, and such a system produces 40–50 young in a decent season.

My own ‘Ashfield Six’ were a classic example—they went everywhere and did everything together. Once they settled into their new aviary, they bred at an impressive rate. I must admit, I learnt my lesson regarding keeping young birds when, after two very productive seasons, I sold all the young I had with no thought to the future.

Seems I wasn’t the only one in Tassie who had never had or seen them before. It will be obvious to readers what happened next, with a couple of the adults turning their toes up and me having nothing to replace them with. Still, as this hobby is one series of sharp learning curves after another, let’s just say I strove to ensure that particular scenario never occurred again.

In common with many nuns, and their ‘cousin’ the Chestnutbreasted Mannikin Lonchura castaneothorax, Yellow-rumps seem to do better in a group than as single pairs. One bathes, they all bathe, one feeds, they all feed—it makes an excellent sight in the larger aviary. Mind you, they can strip vegetation in no time flat, so if you have some spare tea-tree or general aviary brush on hand this will distract them from your planted aviary.

However, they certainly don’t strip vegetation like the Tricoloured Nun L. malacca, whose decimation of aviary vegetation has to be seen to be believed. I have also had Yellow-rumps nest almost on top of each other, with no ill effects. By the time they fledged, however, there was an alarming bow in the bottom nest and it collapsed completely a few days after they left it!

How to Breed Yellow-rumped Mannikin

Nests are constructed, in typical mannikin fashion, from long, green lengths of any available grasses. Couch grass runners are their favourite down here, and they consume bags of it and twist it around into a small ball-shaped structure. Despite never having had them use anything else but the brush to nest in, this season they constructed a few nests inside nest boxes. These nests were complete balls inside the boxes and, when removed, could easily have been placed in the brush given their tightness. One thing to remember in the colder nights is that these nests are not lined in the usual grass finch manner, so you can lose chicks on colder nights. This is a real husbandry consideration, particularly the further south you head.

I have seen some Yellow-rumps use finer November Grass inside the outer shell of green grass but this is unusual rather than the norm. I have not seen them take feathers into the nest. I have seen them use the longer lengths of rye grass stems to construct their nest, so give them the whole stem, not just the seed heads.

In addition, the basal leaves of phalaris plants are gladly utilised for this purpose. Given the long seeding grasses from ‘up north’, I’d imagine any of the larger panic grasses would be appreciated around nesting time.

Generally, 3–5 white eggs are laid, and they have a fertility of 80–90%. Yellow-rumps generally rear most chicks that hatch as they make excellent parents.

Yellow-rumped Mannikin Nutrition

Our Yellow-rumps are currently fed on Elenbee Seeds™ Clifton Finch Mix and their Greens ‘N’ Grains Mix. Like all finches that aren’t normally insectivorous, Yellow-rumps will readily consume mealworms and maggots if presented, but they have reared plenty for us without any form of live food.

Their favourite food is green seeding grasses. Down here, the favourites are the three Ehrharta grasses—veldt panic E. erecta, veldt oats E. longiflora and perennial veldt grass E. calycina, plus any of the rye grasses available. Like most finches, they also relish chickweed when available.

I have found that they like nothing better than to swing and climb off seeding grasses suspended from the aviary ceiling. Simply tie a piece of wire around a bundle of grass and hang from a hook on the roof and watch them clamber all over the stems. It is hilarious to watch when the pendulum effect takes place and they swing through the air. This is obviously a natural behaviour as there are a number of videos and shorts on various internet sites of members of the genus Lonchura feeding in this manner in the wild.

I provide my softfood mix with sprouted/soaked seed and additional blended vegetable mix on a daily basis, plus cucumber. My Polly’s Calcium mix is available ad-libitum.

They are certainly not a demanding species and, with a halfdecent supply of seeding grasses, they can be a prolific species in most aviaries. In common with many of the nuns and their cousin, the Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, they do tend to suffer from the sulks, so presenting them with somewhere in the aviary to hide is always a wise plan. I remember Allen Oliver once telling me that after he caught a pile of young Chestnuts out of the aviary, the remaining adults refused to leave the shelter for days. I’ve seen this a few times with Yellow-rumps as well. (I know most finches regard us as ‘the enemy’ most of the time, but these guys take that to extremes!)

I have run these guys with most finches, and never experienced any issues with them annoying other inhabitants, as they tend to keep to themselves. Given that they are a reasonable size, I have never seen them worry or display hostility towards any of the far smaller waxbills housed with them. Just remember to remove your youngsters, as they can overtake the aviary by outbreeding the other inhabitants. Plus, I stress again, please do not house them with other mannikins or munias!

Health Issues in Yellow-rumped Mannikin

As far as finches go, Yellow-rumps are reasonably hardy if treated in an appropriate manner regarding their housing and dietary needs. We have not known them to suffer from any specific malady. For all finches we recommend a regular worming regime, using various worming products alternately and as advised by your avian vet. For birds in your quarantine regime, Avitrol Plus™ is a good one when given in drops at the recommended dose rate. We strongly advise against using this in the water as it is unknown how much water any particular bird is drinking, hence accuracy in administration rate.

I have seen Yellow-rumps with air sac mite once, and for that we used Ivomec™ in alcohol. Your avian vet will be able to prescribe the correct mix. After this initial direct treatment, the regular use of Cydectin™ via the water should keep it at bay nicely. (For the uninitiated, Cydectin™ is the brand name and moxidectin is its active ingredient.)

In warmer climes, a Coccidia treatment would make sense and there are a variety of amprolium-based products available. If your birds are diagnosed with Coccidia, your vet is likely to prescribe Baycox™.

In common with most mannikins and munias, Yellow-rumps often suffer from overgrown toes. This can lead to them becoming stuck on the wire and among the brush, if not dealt with appropriately. The easiest method is to use a pair of fine nail cutters and hold the toe to the light and cut the nail back from the vein that, fortunately, appears quite prominently.

Despite what is often written, this elongation of the toe nails/ claws is not always age-related and we have seen it many times even in uncoloured Silver and Tri-coloured Nuns. Older Yellow-rumps are usually easily identifiable by the calloused appearance of their legs, more so than their long claws.


If you are not obsessed with brightly coloured finches, you could do far worse than to get hold of a few pairs of Yellowrumps to include in your mixed aviary. Generally peaceable and unobtrusive, they can be a delight to watch. Free-breeders and easy to cater for, they require a few more of us to keep and breed them lest they should suffer the fate of many of our drabber exotics.

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