Mynah bird information

Written by andrea julian
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Mynah bird information
Mynah birds have been introduced to habitats worldwide. (starlings on the tree image by starush from Fotolia.com)

There are many species of mynah birds, the most commonly known one being the common mynah. Mynahs are generally highly successful in the wild. Easily domesticated, many people keep and breed various mynah bird species as pets. They are a distinctive class of birds that are part of the starling family.

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General Information

The mynah, or mynah, birds are members of the starling family that are native to the southern and eastern part of Asia. However, many mynah species have been introduced to North America, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. There are many species of mynah birds, typically grouped into two distinct groups: the “jungle and hill mynahs," and the “true mynahs.” The common mynah is the most prolific of the mynah species and is found all over the world, particularly in urban communities. Mynah birds are an adaptable species that do well in any habitat. The bird has been so successful in adapting to urban environments that it has become an invasive pest. The common mynah was declared in 2000 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Species Survival Commission to be one of the world's 100 worst invasive species and it is a serious threat to the ecosystems of Australia.

Characteristics

Mynah birds are known for their singing and “speaking” abilities and are often kept as house pets. They are also well known for their imitative skills. Mynah birds are small to medium-sized birds with a short tail. Though species vary in colouration, their plumage is typically dark brown, and species will often have yellow or colourful head ornaments. One species, the Bali mynah, is highly distinctive due to its white plumage and dark accents. It is nearly extinct in the wild.

Diet

Mynah birds are omnivores. They are soft-billed birds, and typically eat insects, fruit, nectar and small invertebrates such as insects and worms. Mynah birds have also been known to eat small fish, small birds and small lizards. Being adaptive, they do not tend to be picky about what they eat. Mynah birds are important pollinators and are also play an important role in seed dispersal.

Reproduction

Most species of mynah birds are thought to mate for life. Most species will make their nest in holes either in trees or an artificial structure. Generally three to five blue-green eggs are laid in a clutch. Some mynahs may have marked eggs, such as the hill mynah, whose eggs are dotted brown. Eggs are incubate for 11 to 14 days. The young will stay in the nest for approximately three weeks, leaving the nest when they are able to fly.

Mynah Birds and Man

Mynah birds have been successful in terms of learning to live alongside man. The Greek philosopher Pliny noted how mynahs benefited man by eating crop-eating insects such as locusts. Its role as a biological pest control is one of the main reasons why the mynah was introduced into so many environments. The mynah also holds an important role in the Hindu religion. The hill mynah in particular plays an important role in the propagation of the holy banyan tree, the national tree of India. In fact, the word 'mynah' is derived from the Hindi word 'maina' which means joyful or delightful and is a term of endearment. It also means 'messenger of God' in Sanskrit.

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