|photo from ebird|
I emailed resident bird maven Ken Weaver and he told me, without even seeing a picture, that from my description they were scaly breasted munia, aka nutmeg mannikins or spice finches.
I looked them up and he was of course, right. Linnaeus first chronicled the species in 1758.
The species is actually native to Asia, living from India and Nepal to the Philippines. Cage escapees have now established flourishing populations in Hawaii, California and Florida. A delightful little bird!