09 February 2013

I can talk -- can you fly? Common Mynah

The Common Mynah (Acridotheres tristis) is a member of the family of Sturnidae (Starlings and Mynahs) native to Asia.

The Mynah is the size of a Pigeon. It’s a familiar dark brown bird with bright yellow bill, legs and a yellow peri-orbital skin around the eye. The Mynah displays a conspicuous white wing patch during its flight. The sexes are similar and birds are usually seen in pairs. With the Crow and Babbler, the Mynah is probably the most common bird at Arunachala.

Yellow peri-obital skin around eye

The range of the Common Mynah is increasing at such a rapid rate that the IUCN Species Survival Commission has declared it one of the world’s most invasive species and is one of only three birds in the top 100 species that pose an impact to biodiversity. The other two birds on the list are the Red-vented Bulbul and the European Starling. The Common Mynah is regarded as a pest in South Africa, North America, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand and many Pacific islands. It is particularly problematic in Australia. Several methods have been tried to control the bird's numbers and protect native species.

Close up of yellow skin around eye

This Bird favours open woodland but has adapted well to urban environments. Like most Starlings, the Common Mynah is omnivorous. It feeds on insects, arachnids, crustaceans, reptiles, small mammals, seeds, grain and fruits and discarded waste from human habitation. It forages on the ground among grass for insects, and especially for grasshoppers, from which it gets the generic name Acridotheres, "grasshopper hunter". It however feeds on a wide range of insects, mostly picked from the ground. It is a cross-pollinator of flowers such as Salmalia and Erythrina. It walks on the ground with occasional hops and is an opportunistic feeder on the insects disturbed by grazing cattle as well as fired grass fields.

Conspicuous wing patch during flight

This bird breeds for life and its nesting season is April to August. Its nest is comprised of a collection of twigs, roots, paper and rubbish in a hole in a tree, wall or ceiling. It lays around 4 or 5 glossy blue eggs with both sexes sharing domestic duties.

Nesting in Tree Hollow

The Common Mynah uses the nests of woodpeckers, parakeets and other birds and easily takes to nest boxes; it has been recorded evicting the chicks of previously nesting pairs by holding them in the beak and later sometimes not even using the emptied nest boxes. This aggressive behaviour is considered to contribute to its success as an invasive species.

Nest with eggs and first hatchling

The Mynah has a number of sharp calls and chatter. The call of this bird includes croaks, squawks, chirps, clicks, whistles and 'growls', and the bird often fluffs its feathers and bobs its head in singing. The Common Mynah screeches warnings to its mate or other birds in cases of predators in proximity or when its about to take off flying. Common Mynahs are popular as cage birds for their singing and "speaking" abilities. Before sleeping in communal roosts, Mynahs vocalise in unison, which is known as "communal noise". 

Young Mynah Bird

The Mynah is a superb imitator, as this charming and amusing video shows.

I can talk - can you fly?

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