About the Myna Bird

Written by cynthia barstad
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About the Myna Bird
The common mynah in juvenile plumage resembles its close relative, the starling. (Anup Shah/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Three different species of wild mynah birds live in North America. Originally native to open woodlands in Asia, the mynah has adapted to urban and agricultural areas. Mynahs can be found in Florida, California and British Columbia, where captive birds escaped and established wild populations, and in Hawaii, where humans introduced the species to help control insects. Humans also keep mynah, or mynah, birds as exotic pets. Mynahs, which are closely related to starlings, have noisy, raucous vocalisation but also imitate other birds' calls and even human sounds.

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Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis)

The American Birding Association (ABA) added the common mynah, or Indian mynah, to its species checklist in 2008. It measures 9.75 inches long, with a wingspan of 18 inches. The common mynah has a black head with a small yellow eye-ring. Unlike the other two mynah species, which are predominantly black overall, its body is brown with white under the tail. Common mynahs are omnivores, eating insects, fruit, grain, nectar, small reptiles, birds' eggs and chicks.

Crested Myna (Acridotheres cristatellus)

With a short, bushy crest of feathers on its head, this bird is similar in size to the common mynah. As of 2011, it is only found in its native Southeast Asia. One or two pairs were released in Vancouver, British Columbia in the 1890s, which led to a population peak of several thousand by the 1930s. However, after the death of the last two known individuals in 2002 (they were hit by a car), the species was removed from the ABA checklist of North American birds.

Hill Myna (Gracula religiosa or Eulabes religiosa)

The hill mynah is the largest of the three species at about 10.5 inches long and a wingspan of up to 20 inches. Compared to the other two mynahs, it has a somewhat shorter tail and a heavier, deep-orange bill. It has noticeable bright-yellow waddles, or flaps of skin, by each eye. The hill mynah has wild populations in southern Florida and southern California. It is sometimes called the "talking myna." It is the mynah species most commonly kept as a pet bird because of its ability to mimic human speech.

Invasive Species

Common mynahs are indigenous to India, where they are considered "the farmer's friend" because they eat pest insects. Humans introduced mynahs into other areas for insect control, including Hawaii and Australia. But, as of 2011, both locations prohibit mynahs because they damage fruit crops and carry parasites that may infect humans. Competition from common mynahs negatively impacts parrots and other bird species, some of which are already endangered. For these reasons, the common mynah was one of only three birds on the 2011 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list of the world's worst 100 invasive species.

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