The Myna is August's bird of the month.
The Common Myna, or Indian Myna, is a tropical bird in the same family as the Common Starling (Sturnis vulgaris). Both species were introduced into Australia around the 1860’s to help control agricultural insect pests. While consuming large numbers of insects, they themselves became pests. A popular nickname for the Common Myna is the ‘Flying Cane Toad’.
Despite its unfortunate reputation, the Common Myna is an attractive looking bird. It has a brown body with darker wings and tail and a black hooded head. It has a yellow bill and patch of skin below and behind the eye, and yellow legs. In flight the wings are dark with large white patches on both upper and under sides, the underside of the dark tail is white, and a white band marks the end of the upper tail. They have a wide variety of calls from musical, to harsh chattering, and as a cage bird were known to mimic the human voice. The male and female have similar appearance.
There is often confusion between the Common Myna and the Noisy Miner, both found in the Parklands. While both are of similar size and behavior, with yellow bills and facial patches, the Noisy Miner is a native Honeyeater, grey in colour, which differs from the brown Common Myna.
The natural range of the Common Myna extends from Central Asia, through India and South East Asia. It was introduced to Australia by European settlers to eat up insects. Introduced to many countries around the world, it has been internationally recognised as one of the world’s most invasive species.
In Australia is has established itself along the eastern and south-eastern coasts, ranging inland into agricultural regions. Stringent controls have helped restrict its spread into South and Western Australia, and only occasional reports come from Tasmania.
The Common Myna is usually seen feeding on the ground, swooping up insects. It has a preference for grasshoppers, but is omnivorous, taking a wide range of insects as well as seeds, grain and fruits. Its appetite for fruit has made it unpopular with fruit and berry growing farmers. It is also happy to feed on pet food and human food scraps, which provide it with reliable forage in our cities.
They roost communally of a night, with large numbers noisily flying into preferred roosting trees. In the morning they disperse, flying up to ten kilometres to feed.
Common Mynas are believed to pair for life, and usually nest between October and March. They construct a nest in small hollows, either in trees, or in man-made structures, particularly in the walls and ceilings of buildings where they can become a fire hazard. When nesting they are fiercely territorial, not only fighting among themselves for suitable nesting sites, but also destroying the nests, eggs and chicks of native bird species to appropriate the nest site, or merely because they are nesting nearby.
Their nests are an untidy collection of twigs, grass, leaves and feathers, often with an addition of plastic and other human waste. Four to six eggs are laid and incubated for 17 to 18 days, with the hatchlings developing in the nest for 22 to 24 days before fledging.
In the Park:
Common Mynas are regularly seen about the Park, in pairs or small flocks, feeding on the lawns, particularly around picnic sites, or flying between feeding sites and safe daytime roosts on the islands of the ponds. They should not be encouraged by feeding.
This information was curated by a team of passionate Centennial Parklands volunteers and with the assistance of Volunteer Program and Asset staff. Find out more about our volunteer programs here.