Dwarf stars

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Dwarf stars
Madagascar Munia - Lac Alarobia - Madagascar S4E6942 (15101198237) .jpg

Dwarf steak ( Lepidopygia nana )

Order : Passerines (Passeriformes)
Subordination : Songbirds (passeri)
Family : Fine finches (Estrildidae)
Subfamily : Lonchurinae
Genre : Lepidopygia
Type : Dwarf stars
Scientific name of the  genus
Reichenbach , 1862
Scientific name of the  species
Lepidopygia nana
( Pucheran , 1845)

The dwarf star ( Lepidopygia nana , Syn .: Lonchura nana ) is a species from the family of the finch finches . It is native to the island of Madagascar and is the only species of fine finch that originally occurs there. The species was at times considered a representative of the genus of the bronze male ( Lonchura ), but is now classified in a separate genus Lepidopygia .

No subspecies are distinguished. The species is classified as harmless by the IUCN .


Dwarf pens reach a body length of up to nine centimeters and weigh an average of eight grams. This makes them one of the smallest species of fine finch. There is no sexual dimorphism .

From the base of the beak to the eyes there is a little black feather, the so-called rein. They also have a black throat and black tail feathers. The forehead, crown and nape of the head are feathery gray. The chest and stomach plumage are light reddish brown to yellowish brown. Lighter feather hems make the lower body appear indistinctly scaled or banded. The upper tail covers, however, are olive-yellow in color. The back and the wing covers are brownish.

Young birds do not yet have a black throat spot. Their forehead, crown and neck are feathered brown instead of gray.

Habitat and way of life

Dwarf stars can be found all over the island of Madagascar. They only avoid closed forests and predominantly inhabit grasslands as well as forest edges and clearings. The birds can also be observed in gardens and plantations, where they appear either in pairs or in small flocks of up to twenty individuals. They are very agile and skillfully climb stalks. Their diet consists mainly of small seeds. They either pick them up directly from the ground or pick them out of the fruit stands.

The reproductive behavior has not yet been conclusively investigated. The main breeding season falls between September and July. The nest is at heights of one to four meters above the ground. It is erected in bushes, trees or palm fronds. It usually stands individually. The clutch consists of three to four eggs. The incubation period is 15 days, the nestling period between 23 and 24 days.


Dwarf elsters are systematically very close to the shiny elsters , small elsters and giant elsters native to the African continent . There is a close relationship to other fine finch species, especially to the pearl-necked samadine ; often all of the aforementioned genera are combined in the genus Lonchura . In the plumage color with the black throat, the dwarf star is reminiscent of the belt grass finch from the genus of the grass finch that occurs in Australia . However, it is not yet clear whether this results from a close family relationship or whether it is a convergent development.


Dwarf storks were occasionally introduced to Europe in 1880 and 1881 and a little more frequently from 1884. However, they were never very common in stores. An export ban was imposed on Madagascar in the early 1930s. What is certain is that dwarf pens were only introduced back to Europe in 1973. Since then they have been bred regularly in small numbers. There are only a few breeders in Germany who keep this species. It is usually considered to be very compatible with other birds. During breeding, however, it is better if the pairs are kept separate, as the animals can also become aggressive towards other conspecifics.

supporting documents


Web links

Commons : Madagascan mannikin ( Lepidopygia nana )  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Single receipts

  1. Handbook of the Birds of the World
  2. BirdLife Factsheet , accessed July 10, 2010
  3. BirdLife Factsheet , accessed July 10, 2010
  4. Nicolai et al., S: 371