1. ANIMAL DESCRIPTION
Common name: Indian Mynah or Common Myna
Scientific name: Acridotheres tristis
Classed as an invasive species in Australia
The Myna bird was imported into Melbourne Australia in 1862. They were imported in an attempt to control insect pests in market gardens. This experiment proved to be unsuccessful but they were still introduced to other Australian locations such as north Queensland, where it was thought they would control insect pests in the sugar cane fields (the same principle as the cane toad) but they became a serious pest. This bird is a member of the starling family and well known as a very good mimic of human speech when kept in captivity.
Adult size when fully grown is around 120 mm tall.
It has a chocolate brown feathered coat complete with a striking yellow beak, yellow eye surround and yellow legs. Their head is a black colour and they can be seen to have white spots to their wings when they take flight.
2. ECOLOGY AND BEHAVIOUR
The biggest threat by the Indian Myna is that it aggressively competes with the Australian native wildlife for its nesting hollows. They nest in tree hollows and roof voids of dwellings and buildings. It may not be common knowledge but the availability of nesting hollows in Australia are in diminishing supply due to human clearing for farming and agriculture. Their aggressive nature means that most Australian wildlife cannot compete with them.
As a direct result of this displacement of Australian native birds, such as the rosellas, they reduce the biodiversity. The Indian Myna will destroy the Rosella’s eggs and chicks (as well as other birdlife) and prevent them from breeding successfully. Indian Mynas have also been recorded evicting Australian native birds from their nests and they do that to species that are larger than themselves, such as Kookaburras and Dollar Birds. Indian Mynas will strive and succeed in evicting small mammals such as Sugar Gliders from their precious hollows. This can mean death for the Sugar Gliders because once they are displaced they become easy targets for preying animals.
It is not uncommon for groups of Indian Mynas to mob other species of birds and mammals like possums until they have displaced these from their homes and then take over the space. Once they have taken over an area they commence breeding prolifically and the devastating cycle rolls on to the next area where they mob and displace the next Australian natives out of their natural environment.
They can also be a serious economic problem on top of their disastrous environmental damage. They regularly damage fruit and grain crops across Australia with their aggressive feeding patterns and sheer numbers. The Indian Myna is known to have a voracious appetite and will not hesitate to strip an area clean of crops when feeding. The have little regard for maintaining a balance on what bounty nature provides it for long term survival.
The Indian Myna impacts human inhabitants with their excessive noise and varied vocal communication. Once a group of birds move into a neighbourhood it is hard to ignore their noisy banter and boisterous communication as they go about their daily life routines.
Noise is one factor that can impact residents but the Indian Myna also is associated with an unpleasant odour that they produce. This pungent and offensive odour is more pronounced when there are a larger number of the birds in an area. The amount of droppings they produce is the main cause for the unpleasant odour and there is also the potential to spread disease.
Mynas can also spread mites amongst their flock and then onto other animals and human beings they reside near. Bird mite infestations can cause severe itching and rashes. They have the potential to spread contagious diseases directly to humans and domesticated animals such as the family pet through their droppings and moulting of feathers.
If they nest in the roof of a house, when the young chicks leave the bird nest, the mites and lice have no host to feed on, so they move down into the property. They are looking for other birds but their special sensors are like heat detectors and so will find any warm animal. That’s when humans get bitten. Even though the lice and mites cannot survive on humans, the bites are very uncomfortable.
Once they become comfortable in an area and they have established themselves as a dominant force they have been known to become quite fearless of humans. Because humans are accepting of birdlife in general the Myna will take this as submission and boldly steal food from picnics or barbecues. This behaviour becomes common place and humans become sources of food providers.
Although Mynas are not normally aggressive to humans, people have complained about being swooped and trying to take food from their plates.
Their breeding behaviour is seasonal. The birds form pairs for breeding from early Spring (September) until the start of Autumn (March). They will seek out a protected nesting site (usually at the expense of a local native Australian bird or mammal) and produce on average 4 to 5 chicks.
When the juveniles are old enough to fly they travel in small family groups of up to 12 birds including some adult birds. After the breeding season is finished, the Mynas join larger groups and congregate in communal roosts. They tend to divide into smaller groups of around 20 birds in the mornings and head off in different directions to search for food.
It has been observed that hundreds of Mynas will roost in a single tree or manmade structure such as a building, especially near a suitable regular food source. Food sources include shopping centres, school yards, race courses and residential areas where they can scavenge pet food scraps. When the colony numbers become too large for the available food source, a large group will fly away and look to become established elsewhere as a new colony.
Confusion with Other Birds:
There is another bird in Australia with a similar sounding name. It is called the Noisy Miner and in contrast to the Common Myna it is an Australian Native bird. The native Noisy Miner can be found in flocks of 5-15 and can be aggressive towards other birds and cats, so is sometimes confused as the pest miner when it is actually an aggressive native.
The two species are actually quite different as listed below:
Black head plumage Pale grey head plumage with a distinctive black mask around the eyes and face
Narrow yellow / orange coloured beak Larger yellow partially curved beak
Pale blue eyes Dark brown eyes
Protected Australian native bird species
Orange / yellow eye patch surround the eyes Stark distinctive yellow eye patch
Distinctive white patch on wings during flight Olive tinged wing and tail feathers
Chocolate brown body plumage Grey plumage with speckled brown highlights and white abdominal area
Yellow legs Flesh coloured legs
Feral introduced species that has been put on an eradication programme
4. HOME OWNER PROBLEMS
They are also considered to be a major nuisance in urban areas due to their excessive numbers. Home owners find them nesting under roofs where they infest people’s homes with bird lice and potentially diseases such as Salmonella and Cryptococci.
Home owners are also affected when they nest and roost in large groups in local parklands and shopping centres. They are extremely noisy and can contaminate these areas and neighbouring homes with their unpleasant droppings. The Myna birds’ droppings are acidic and corrosive which can damage houses and vehicles parked near their nesting points. The unpleasant odour can be significant when droppings are allowed to build up in quantity around people’s homes. No home owner appreciates this mess and smell.
If home owners care about the number of Australian wild birds in their gardens, then Myna birds have a massive negative impact. The aggressive competition for limited nesting hollows forces the Australian birdlife out of their homes. The population of the Australian birdlife then dwindles and the variety of birds in the garden is reduced.
5. SUMMARY – HOW CAN PETER THE POSSUMMAN HELP YOU?
Apart from excessive noise at dusk when the Myna birds might be nesting in your home’s eaves, they also bring with them unwanted risks such as disease and acidic droppings. This is not good when you are trying to protect your biggest investment your house.
Your family’s health is your highest priority so locating a professional and reputable eco-friendly pest controller to remove the Myna bird is essential. By acting quickly and contacting a professional pest controller who specializes in removing Myna birds from inside roofs can prevent expensive damage to your home and reduce the risk of getting bitten by bird lice.
Trapping programs have been used to reduce the numbers of Indian Mynas. The best publicised one has been run for many years in Canberra. As they are an introduced bird and classed as invasive they can be caught and euthanized, humanely. However they are quite intelligent birds and so are not easy to trap. The alarm calls of one captured bird will alert the rest of the flock and no more will go to the trap. They will remember that event for some time. Some trappers first keep one Myna as a pet and train it to sing happily from inside the cage, thereby attracting other wild birds of the same species.
There are some specialist web sites with advice on trapping this species but in general it must be said that the cost of running a trapping programme is far too high for most home owners, unless they are willing to manage the traps themselves.
However, when the birds are getting inside your building and making a bird nest in the roof cavity, we can take effective action. We can quote to install bird spikes or bird netting depending on what will be the most effective solution.
Call Peter the Possum Man and ask for your local serviceman who is the Brisbane bird removalist. Our highly trained pest controllers can advise on the best ways to exclude them from your property either through proofing, bird spikes or bird net. We have over 25 years of experience and we know the techniques to humanely remove an unwanted Myna bird today.
So once again – if you have a bird infestation in your property, call Peter the Possum & Bird Man for a local professional Brisbane bird controller.