Indian Myna Click to enlarge image
Image: John Fields
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    tristis
    Genus
    Acridotheres
    Family
    Sturnidae
    Order
    Passeriformes
    Class
    Aves
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    23 cm to 26 cm

The Common Myna's success is mostly a result of its opportunistic behaviour and aggressiveness towards other species, bullying them around food sources and out competing them for nesting sites.

Identification

The Common Myna is brown with a black head. It has a yellow bill, legs and bare eye skin. In flight it shows large white wing patches. The Common Myna is a member of the starling family and is also known as the Indian Myna or Indian Mynah.

Habitat

The Common Myna is closely associated with human habitation. In the evening, large groups of Common Mynas gather in communal roosts, mainly in the non-breeding season, in roof voids, bridges, and large trees, and numbers can reach up to several thousands.

Distribution

The Common Myna is found along the east and south-east coasts of Australia. Introduced at Melbourne from south-east Asia between 1862 and 1872, it established quickly, with several other introductions occurring until the 1950's.


Feeding and diet

Common Mynas are accomplished scavengers, feeding on almost anything, including insects, fruits and vegetables, scraps, pets' food and even fledgling sparrows.

Communication

The voice is unpleasant: a collection of growls and other harsh notes.The noise from large groups of Common Mynas can be deafening.

Breeding behaviours

Common Mynas mate for life. During the breeding season there is usually considerable competition for nesting sites. Favoured locations are in the walls and ceilings of buildings, making these birds a nuisance to humans. Nests are also placed in tree hollows, which are used by native birds. Nests are quite messy and consist of a variety of materials. Leaves, grasses, feathers and assorted items of rubbish are common materials. Violent battles often erupt between occupants of nesting sites and the couple that wish to evict them. Each partner grapples with its opposite number and contestants drop to the ground secured in each other's claws. Bills are jabbed ruthlessly at the opponent. Finally, the defeated couple leaves to search for another site.

Breeding Season: October to March.

Economic impacts

The Common Myna was introduced into the cane fields of north-eastern Queensland in 1883, to combat insect pests, particularly plague locusts and cane beetles. Other releases occurred, and by the 1940s and 1950s it was established in many eastern metropolitan areas. Failed introductions were made at Launceston, Tasmania in 1900 and later in 1955. Some sightings have occurred since, however, probably of birds that have flown there from the mainland. In southern Asia Common Mynas are not generally considered pests, as flocks follow the plough to feast on the insects and grubs turned up with the soil. In Australia, however, their fruit-eating habits make them a pest of fruit trees, especially figs. Birds are also responsible for picking off seedlings in market gardens.

References

  • Pizzey, G. and Knight, F. 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
  • Strahan, R. (ed) 1996. Finches, Bowerbirds and Other Passerines of Australia. Angus and Robertson and the National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.