UPDATE 9/4: From California Bird Wizard Kimball Garrett on CALBIRDS, "Nutmeg Mannikin (Lonchura punctulata) is added by acceptance of a package of information (CBRC #2013-085) showing that it has met the CBRC's criteria for addition to the California state list as an introduced species. It represents a new family (Estrildidae: Estrildid finches) for the California list and is placed at the end of the list following House Sparrow. Note that the name "Nutmeg Mannikin" is not the English name used in most of the native range of this species, and it is possible that the name will be changed by the AOU to "Scaly-breasted Munia" in the future. Also, the ABA Checklist Committee is currently voting on the addition of Nutmeg Mannikin to the ABA list, with a decision due very soon. "
THIS JUST IN: The dreaded Nutmeg Mannikin has been added to California's official state list by the California Bird Records Committee (aka Bird Police). Not only is this earth-shaking, pants-wetting news for the numerous hardcore state and county listers that reside in California, this courageous decision has implications for the entire nation.
The American Birding Association will most certainly be someday adding this bird onto their list in the future (perhaps many years, perhaps much sooner), making it officially "countable". If you are a lister who plays by their rules, you would be interested to know that once a state committee adds an exotic species onto the official list, the ABA inevitably adds it as well, although it can take a long time. I don't think there are any current exceptions to this pattern. Keep in mind that Nutmeg Mannikin, Scaly-breasted Munia, Spotted Munia and Spice Finch are all different names for the same bird; the CBRC lists them as Nutmeg Mannikin.
Of course, those birders who refuse to list introduced species of any sort ("NIB or Death", or something like that) will be unimpressed. Haters gonna hate.
The effect mannikins (native to a large swath of Asia) have on native California birds is unknown. Like many invasive species, they are fond of places not far from human development...at least they are not a brood parasite like another fellow SoCal invader, the Pin-tailed Whydah. Southwestern California is the place to get this bird; they are most often encountered in weedy and unpleasant habitats in San Diego, Orange, Riverside, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. Adjust your travel plans accordingly.
Thanks to Dave Pereksta for the photo.