mynah

Because of its habit of prospecting along the roadsides for bugs killed by cars, the common mynah is probably the one bird New Zealanders are most familiar with, at least in the northern parts of the North Island. No doubt mynahs have developed this habit in other parts of the world but here it makes them a target for many people in cars who do their best to run them down, usually without success, unlike the poor Pukeko. The mynah’s jaunty cocky nature just seems to infuriate a lot of people.

Common mynas have been exported from their land of origin, the Indian sub continent, to many other parts of the world by people who like their jaunty “attitude” and clear, striking calls. They are now firmly established and feral in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Solomons, New Caledonia, Fiji, Western Samoa, Cook Islands, Hawai’i and some other oceanic islands.

In its native India the common myna is called the “Farmer’s Friend” because it eats insects that destroy crop plants. They are also highly regarded by gardeners in other countries as natural insecticides. In some countries people keep mynas as pets. They make intelligent and affectionate pets as they can learn to greet their owners in several languages. Certainly it has been some surprise to me to see how much space on the internet is devoted to them. However, common mynas are not as good at learning to imitate human speech as the Indian hill myna, Gracula religiosa, which is an accomplished mimic.

Mynas are distinctive because, unlike most other birds, they walk rather than hop.

The Acclimatisation Societies and private individuals between 1870 and 1877 introduced several hundred birds into New Zealand, mainly to the South Island. Mynahs persisted in the South Island until about 1890. They were once numerous in the southern part of the North Island but now are mainly found in the northern North Island farmland, orchards, and suburban gardens. They rarely venture far into forests but can be common on the forest edge. The move north is generally attributed to their preference for a warmer climate, although W.R.H. Oliver quotes those who thought it due to the increase in the numbers of starlings.

Pairs of mynahs stay together year after year. In the breeding season they are strongly territorial. The nest is a cup of dry grass, twigs and leaves, usually in a hole in a tree, cliff, or building. They are very aggressive birds and will compete for nesting boxes which farmers put out to encourage starlings. There seems to be no information as to whether or not they evict native or endemic birds from nesting holes.

Except for incubating females, mynas spend the night in communal roosts, some of which may have 1,000 or more birds. From these roosts they disperse to their territorial feeding grounds each day. They are most often seen, however, in rowdy aggressive gangs, bullying other birds over available food supplies. They compete with magpies with their cacophonous calls, bubbling and gurgling, cackling and chattering away. Their diet is varied but mainly a mixture of invertebrates and fruit.

“Mynah” is not a biological classification within the starling family, but rather a geographical one. “mynah” (“maina”) is the Hindi word for starling, and this name has tended to be applied to starling species native to southern and southeastern Asia and the southwest Pacific. The word “mynah” derives from the Sanskrit “madana,” meaning joyful or delightful, which comes from the word “mad,” to rejoice, which in turn derives from a root meaning “bubbles.” So ultimately the word “mynah” means “bubbling with joy.”

Taxonomy
Kingdom:
Animalia.
Phylum:
Chordata.
Class:
Aves.
Order:
Passeriformes.
Family:
Sturnidae.
Genera:
Acridotheres.
Species:
tristis.
Sub Species:

Other common names:  — 

Description:  — 

Introduced bird

24 cm., 125 g., chocolate brown, black head and neck, yellow beak, eye patch, feet and legs, white wing patches when flying.

Where to find:  — 

Widespread and common northern part of North Island.

Poetry:  — 

Number one day of Christmas,
My Tutu (Aunty) give to me,
One mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Number two day of Christmas,
My Tutu give to me,two coconuts,
And one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Number three day of Christmas,
My Tutu give to me,
Three dried squid, two coconuts,
And one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Number four day of Christmas,
My Tutu give to me,
Four flower leis, three dried squid,
Two coconuts,
And one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Number five day of Christmas,
My Tutu give to me,
Five big fat pigs,
Four flower leis, three dried squid, two coconuts,
And one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Number six day of Christmas,
My Tutu give to me,
Six hula lessons, five big fat pigs,
Four flower leis, three dried squid, two coconuts,
And one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Number seven day of Christmas,
My Tutu give to me,
Seven fires dancers, six hula lessons,
Five big fat pigs, four flower leis,
Three dried squid, two coconuts,
And one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Number eight day of Christmas,
My Tutu give to me,
Eight ukuleles, seven fires dancers,
Six hula lessons, five big fat pigs,
Four flower leis, three dried squid, two coconuts,
And one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Number nine day of Christmas,
My Tutu give to me,
Nine pounds of poi, eight ukuleles,
Seven fires dancers, six hula lessons,
Five big fat pigs, four flower leis,
Three dried squid, two coconuts,
And one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Number ten day of Christmas,
My Tutu give to me,
Ten cans of beer, nine pounds of poi,
Eight ukuleles, seven fires dancers,Six hula lessons, five big fat pigs,
Four flower leis, three dried squid, two coconuts,
And one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Number eleven day of Christmas,
My Tutu give to me,
Eleven pineapples, ten cans of beer,
Nine pounds of poi, eight ukuleles,
Seven fires dancers, six hula lessons,
Five big fat pigs, four flower leis,
Three dried squid, two coconuts,
And one mynah bird in one papaya tree.

Number twelve day of Christmas, is the best,
And the best stuff always come last...

Number twelve day of Christmas,
My Tutu give to me,
Twelve surfboards, eleven pineapples,
Ten cans of beer, nine pounds of poi,
Eight ukuleles, seven fires dancers, six hula lessons, five big fat pigs,
four flower leis, three dried squid, two coconuts,
and one mynah bird in one papaya tree!

—  Pacific Island Twelve Days of Christmas

Credit for the photograph: — 

 

Picture © Juhani Kyyrö

Illustration description: — 

Reference(s): — 

 

Heather, B., & Robertson, H., Field Guide to the Birds of New Zealand, 2000.

Oliver, W.R.B. New Zealand Birds, 1955.

Page date & version: — 

 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014; ver2009v1

 
 
 

©  2005    Narena Olliver,    new zealand birds limited,     Greytown, New Zealand.