Global Range: RESIDENT: from eastern Iran, Turkestan, and Himalayas south to India, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, and Andaman Islands. INTRODUCED: established in Hawaii (all main islands and Midway), South Africa, Malaya, Australia, New Zealand, and many oceanic islands, including Upolu in the western Samoan Islands (AOU 1983, Beichle 1989).
Common mynas are native to south Asia. Their natural breeding range is from Afghanistan through India and Sri Lanka to Bangladesh. They have been introduced to many tropical areas of the world except for South America. Common mynas are a resident species in India, although occasional east-west movements have been reported.
Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Introduced ); palearctic (Introduced ); oriental (Native ); ethiopian (Introduced ); australian (Introduced ); oceanic islands (Introduced )
occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Common mynas range in body length from 23 to 26 cm, weigh anywhere from 82 to 143 grams, and have a wingspan of 120 to 142 mm. The female and the male are monomorphic for the most part – the male is only slightly larger, with a greater body mass and wingspan. Common mynas have yellow bills, legs, and eye skin. They are dark brown with a black head. They have white undertail coverts, tail tips, patches at the base of their primaries, and wing linings that are distinctive in flight. Juveniles have more brownish heads than adults. Common mynas are often confused with noisy miners (Manorina melanocephala). In contrast to common mynas, noisy miners are slightly larger and mostly grey.
Range mass: 82 to 143 g.
Range length: 23 to 26 cm.
Range wingspan: 120 to 142 mm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike; male larger
Length: 25 cm
SubSpecies Varieties Races
Common mynas occupy a wide range of habitats in warm areas with access to water. In their native range, common mynas inhabit open agricultural areas such as farmlands as well as cities. They are often found on the outskirts of towns and also outlying homesteads in desert or forest. They tend to avoid dense vegetation. They are most common in dry woodlands and partly open forests. On the Hawaiian islands, they have been reported from elevations of sea level to 3000 meters. Common mynas prefer to roost in isolated stands of tall trees with dense canopies.
Range elevation: 0 to 3,000 m.
Average elevation: 1,500 m.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial
Terrestrial Biomes: desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; forest ; scrub forest
Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; agricultural ; riparian
Habitat and Ecology
Comments: Open country and plains, primarily near human habitation. Hawaii: seacoast to forest edge; open countryside, agricultural areas, residential gardens and streets; often associates with domestic animals; often roosts in monkeypod or banyan trees. BREEDING: Nests in various nooks and crannies, often on or in buildings or other structures, also in trees (Berger 1981).
Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Common mynas are omnivorous and feed on almost anything. Their primary diet consists of fruit, grain, grubs, and insects. They prey on eggs and young of other birds, such as akepas (Loxops coccineus). They sometimes even wade in shallow waters to catch fish. Common mynas feed mostly on the ground. In residential areas they eat anything from garbage to kitchen scraps. Common mynas eat small mammals, such as mice, as well as lizards and small snakes. They also eat spiders, earthworms, and crabs. Common mynas eat mostly grains and fruit, but also feed on flower nectar and petals.
Animal Foods: birds; mammals; amphibians; reptiles; fish; eggs; carrion ; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; terrestrial worms; aquatic or marine worms; aquatic crustaceans
Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit; nectar; flowers
Primary Diet: omnivore
Comments: Eats fruit, grain, insects, garbage.
Common mynas are important pollination or seed-dispersal agents for many plants and trees. On the Hawaiian Islands they disperse the seeds of Lantana camara. They also help control cutworms (Spodoptera mauritia) on the Hawaiian Islands. Common mynas also act as hosts for various parasites such as nematodes, tapeworms, trematode flukes, arthropods, and bird mites. In areas where they have been introduced they negatively impact native bird and seabird species by preying on eggs and nestlings.
Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds; pollinates
- nematodes (Nematoda)
- tapeworms (Cestoda)
- trematode flukes (Trematoda)
- feather mites (Acari)
Common nest predators of common mynas are house crows (Corvus splendens) and house cats (Felis silvestris). Javan mongooses (Herpestes javanicus) raid nests to take nestlings and eggs. Humans (Homo sapiens) in some of the Pacific Islands also eat common mynas. Common mynas roost together for predator defense and often mob predators in flocks. They warn each other through alarm calls.
- domestic cats (Felis silvestris)
- humans (Homo sapiens)
- Javan mongooses (Herpestes javanicus)
- house crows (Corvus splendens)
Gregarious; roosts in flocks of up to several thousand.
Life History and Behavior
Common mynas communicate vocally with other mynas and other bird species. They have a wide variety of alarm calls, that can warn other bird species as well. During the day, pairs resting in the shade also utter songs while half-bowing and bristling their feathers. When under duress, common mynas utter high-pitched screams. Parents sometimes utter a specific trill when approaching their nest with food, which signals the nestlings to begin begging. In captivity, common mynas are able to imitate human speech. Both females and males sing, but males sing more frequently. Common mynas also participate in loud dawn and dusk choruses.
Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic
Other Communication Modes: choruses
Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical
Little is known about the lifespan of common mynas. Reports suggest an average life expectancy for both sexes of 4 years. Lack of food or resources is the biggest limiting factor in the survival of common mynas. Other factors that contribute to mortality rates are poor selection of nest sites and unfavorable weather.
Status: wild: 4 years.
Common mynas are monogamous and territorial. In Hawaii pairs stay together year round. In other areas common mynas pair up during early spring and before establishment of territories. During the breeding season, normally from October to March, there is usually considerable competition for nesting sites. Occasionally, violent battles may occur between pairs over a single nesting site. The courtship display of the male is characterized by head bowing and bobbing, with fluffed plumage, accompanied by calls.
Mating System: monogamous
Common mynas reach sexual maturity around 1 year of age. Females lay four to five eggs in a clutch. The incubation period is 13 to 18 days, during which both parents incubate the eggs. The nestlings may leave the nest at around twenty-two days or longer, but may still not be able to fly for another seven days or so. Depending on their geographic location, common mynas have been reported to breed anywhere from 1 to 3 times a season. In their native range, common mynas begin nesting in March and breeding lasts through September. Even after nestlings leave the nest parents may continue to feed and protect these juveniles until 1.5 months after they hatch.
Breeding interval: Depending on geographical location, common mynas have been reported to breed anywhere from 1-3 times yearly.
Breeding season: In their native range, common mynas begin nesting in March and breeding lasts through September.
Range eggs per season: 4 to 5.
Range time to hatching: 13 to 18 days.
Average time to hatching: 13.9 days.
Range fledging age: 22 to 24 days.
Average time to independence: 1.5 months.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 years.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 years.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous
Both parents play an equal part in building and defending nesting territory. Both parents incubate the eggs, with the female incubating the most. The female incubates alone at night, and the male incubates only a little during the day. When the young are hatched they are altricial and blind. Both parents feed the hatchlings for nearly 3 weeks, during the fledging period, and even continue to feed and protect them for up to 3 weeks after they leave the nest. Parents carry food to their chicks mostly in their beaks because they don’t have crops. The young are stimulated to beg when parents give a rich, honky trill while approaching the nest with food. After the young are independent, they sometimes continue to forage with their parents and the parents continue to protect them from predators. Juveniles form small flocks when they become independent. Some young begin to form pairs when they are nine months old, but rarely attempt to breed in their first year.
Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); post-independence association with parents
Hawaii: nesting season at least February-August; clutch size 2-5; incubation 13 days, by both sexes; young tended by both sexes; nestling period 4-5 weeks; sexually mature in <1 year (Eddinger 1967).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Acridotheres tristis
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
-- end --
Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Acridotheres tristis
Public Records: 47
Specimens with Barcodes: 54
Species With Barcodes: 1
Barcode data: Sturnus tristis
Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.
Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.
-- end --
Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Sturnus tristis
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
Common mynas remain common throughout much of their range.
US Migratory Bird Act: no special status
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
State of Michigan List: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Status in Egypt
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Common mynas are able to establish themselves in almost any habitat and, as a result, have become an invasive species in some areas outside of their native range. They are considered a pest because they eat grain or fruit from agricultural crops, such as fig trees. They are also seen as a nuisance for their noise and droppings in the vicinity of human habitation.
Negative Impacts: crop pest; household pest
Common mynas may be helpful in reducing insect populations in agricultural areas. On the Hawaiian Islands, they help control populations of cutworms (Spodoptera mauritia). Common mynas also pollinate and disperse the seeds of economically important trees. Common mynas are often sold as pets for their intelligence and ability to mimic human speech. In 1883, common mynas were introduced into the cane fields of Australia to combat insect pests such as plague locusts and cane beetles.
Positive Impacts: pet trade ; pollinates crops; controls pest population
The common myna (Acridotheres tristis), sometimes spelled mynah, also sometimes known as "Indian myna", is a member of the family Sturnidae (starlings and mynas) native to Asia. An omnivorous open woodland bird with a strong territorial instinct, the myna has adapted extremely well to urban environments.
The common myna is an important motif in Indian culture and appears both in Sanskrit and Prakrit literature. Myna is derived from the Hindi language mainā which itself is derived from Sanskrit madanā.
The range of the common myna is increasing at such a rapid rate that in 2000 the IUCN Species Survival Commission declared it one of the world's most invasive species and one of only three birds in the top 100 species that pose an impact to biodiversity, agriculture and human interests. In particular, the species poses a serious threat to the ecosystems of Australia where it was named "The Most Important Pest/Problem".
- 1 Description
- 2 Distribution
- 3 Etymology
- 4 Taxonomy and subspecies
- 5 Behaviour
- 6 Invasive species
- 7 In culture
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
The common myna is readily identified by the brown body, black hooded head and the bare yellow patch behind the eye. The bill and legs are bright yellow. There is a white patch on the outer primaries and the wing lining on the underside is white. The sexes are similar and birds are usually seen in pairs.
Morphometry is as per Ali & Ripley (2001).
- Body length: 23 centimetres (9.1 in)
|Average weight (gms)|
|Wing chord (mm)|
It is a species of bird native to Asia with its initial home range spanning from Iran, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka; as well as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Myanmar, to Malaysia, Singapore, peninsular Thailand, Indo-China and China.
The myna has been introduced in many other parts of the world such as Canada, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Hawaii, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and islands in the Indian Ocean (Seychelles, Mauritius, Réunion, Madagascar, Maldives, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep archipelago) and also in islands of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The range of the common myna is increasing to the extent that in 2000 the IUCN Species Survival Commission declared it among the World's 100 worst invasive species.
The etymology of the scientific name is as follows:
- Acridotheres: Greek akris, akrodos, a locust; theres, a hunter.
- tristis: Latin tristis, sad, gloomy; Modern Latin tristis, dull-coloured).
Taxonomy and subspecies
- Acridotheres tristis tristis (Linnaeus, 1758). Widespread, including Sri Lanka.
- A. t. melanosternus Legge, 1879. Endemic to Sri Lanka.
The subspecies melanosternus is darker than the nominate subspecies, has half-black and half-white primary coverts and has a larger yellow cheek-patch. The type locality of the nominate subspecies is Puducherry, India.
The calls includes croaks, squawks, chirps, clicks, whistles and 'growls', and the bird often fluffs its feathers and bobs its head in singing. The common myna screeches warnings to its mate or other birds in cases of predators in proximity or when it is about to take off flying. Common mynas are popular as cage birds for their singing and "speaking" abilities. Before sleeping in communal roosts, mynas vocalise in unison, which is known as "communal noise".
Common mynas are believed to pair for life. They breed through much of the year depending on the location, building their nest in a hole in a tree or wall. They breed from sea-level to 3000 m in the Himalayas.
The normal clutch size is 4–6 eggs. The average size of the egg is 30.8 x 21.99 mm. The incubation period is 17 to 18 days and fledging period is 22 to 24 days. The Asian koel is sometimes brood parasitic on this species. Nesting material used by mynas include twigs, roots, tow and rubbish. Mynas have been known to use tissue paper, tin foil and sloughed off snake-skin.
During the breeding season, the daytime activity-time budget of common myna in Pune in April to June 1978 has been recorded to comprise the following: nesting activity (42%), scanning the environment (28%), locomotion (12%), feeding (4%), vocalisation (7%) and preening-related activities, interactions and other activities (7%).
The common myna uses the nests of woodpeckers, parakeets, etc. and easily takes to nest boxes; it has been recorded evicting the chicks of previously nesting pairs by holding them in the beak and later sometimes not even using the emptied nest boxes. This aggressive behaviour contributes to its success as an invasive species.
Food and feeding
Like most starlings, the common myna is omnivorous. It feeds on insects, arachnids, crustaceans, reptiles, small mammals, seeds, grain and fruits and discarded waste from human habitation. It forages on the ground among grass for insects, and especially for grasshoppers, from which it gets the generic name Acridotheres, "grasshopper hunter". It however feeds on a wide range of insects, mostly picked from the ground. It is a cross-pollinator of flowers such as Salmalia and Erythrina. It walks on the ground with occasional hops and is an opportunistic feeder on the insects disturbed by grazing cattle as well as fired grass fields.
Common mynas roost communally throughout the year, either in pure or mixed flocks with jungle mynas, rosy starlings, house crows, jungle crows, cattle egrets and rose-ringed parakeets and other birds. The roost population can range from less than one hundred to thousands. The time of arrival of mynas at the roost starts before and ends just after sunset. The mynas depart before sunrise. The time and timespan of arrival and departure, time taken for final settlement at the roost, duration of communal sleep, flock size and population vary seasonally.
The function of communal roosting is to synchronise various social activities, avoid predators, exchange information about food sources.
Communal displays (pre-roosting and post-roosting) consist of aerial maneuvers which are exhibited in the pre-breeding season (November to March). It is assumed that this behaviour is related to pair formation.
This abundant passerine is typically found in open woodland, cultivation and around habitation. Although this is an adaptable species, its population has been decreasing significantly in Singapore and Malaysia (where it is locally called as gembala kerbau, literally 'buffalo shepherd') due to competition with its cousin, the introduced Javan myna.
The common myna thrives in urban and suburban environments; in Canberra, for instance, 110 common mynas were released between 1968 and 1971. By 1991, common myna population density in Canberra averaged 15 birds per square kilometer. Only three years later, a second study found an average population density of 75 birds per square kilometer in the same area.
The bird likely owes its success in the urban and suburban settings of Sydney and Canberra to its evolutionary origins; having evolved in the open woodlands of India, the common myna is pre-adapted to habitats with tall vertical structures and little to no vegetative ground cover, features characteristic of city streets and urban nature preserves.
The common myna (along with European starlings, house sparrows, and feral rock pigeons) is a nuisance to city buildings; its nests block gutters and drainpipes, causing water damage to building exteriors.
The IUCN declared this myna as one of the only three birds among the world's 100 worst invasive species. (The other two invasive birds are the red-vented bulbul and the European starling.) It has been introduced widely elsewhere, including adjacent areas in Southeast Asia, Madagascar, the Middle East, South Africa, Madagascar, Israel, United States, Argentina, Germany, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and various oceanic islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, including prominent populations in Fiji and Hawaii.
The common myna is a pest in South Africa, North America, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand and many Pacific islands. It is particularly problematic in Australia. Several methods have been tried to control the bird's numbers and protect native species.
In Australia, the common myna is an invasive pest. They are now often the predominant bird in urban areas all along the East coast. In a 2008 popular vote, the bird was named "The Most Important Pest/Problem" in Australia, also earning the nickname "flying rats" due to their scavenging resembling that of rats.
The common myna was first introduced to Australia in Victoria between 1863 and 1872 into Melbourne’s market gardens to control insects. The bird is likely to have spread to New South Wales (where it is currently most populous) at around the same time, but documentation is uncertain. The bird was later introduced to Queensland as a predator of grasshoppers and cane beetles. Currently, common myna populations in Australia are concentrated along the eastern coast around Sydney and its surrounding suburbs, with sparser populations in Victoria and a few isolated communities in Queensland. During 2009 several municipal councils in New South Wales began trials of catching myna birds in an effort to reduce numbers.
The bird can live and breed in a wide range of temperatures, ranging from the harsh winters of Canberra to the tropical climate of Cairns. Self-sustaining populations of common myna have been found in regions of mean warmest month temperature no less than 23.2 °C and mean coldest month temperature no less than -0.4 °C, implying that the common myna could potentially spread from Sydney northward along the eastern coast to Cairns and westward along the southern coast to Adelaide (though not to Tasmania, Darwin, or the arid interior regions).
The Indian myna was introduced to both the North Island and South Island of New Zealand in the 1870s. However, the cooler summer temperatures in the South Island appear to have impeded the breeding success rate of the southern populations, preventing the proliferation of the species, which was largely non-existent there by the 1890s. In contrast, the North Island population was able to breed more successfully and large portions of the North Island are now populated. However, in the southern reaches of the North Island, the cooler summer temperatures, like those of the South Island, have prevented the establishment of large Indian myna populations.
In South Africa where it escaped into the wild in 1902, it has become very common and its distribution is greater where human populations are greater or where there is more human disturbance. The bird is also notorious for being a pest, kicking other birds out of their nests and killing their young due to the myna's strong territorial instinct. In South Africa it is considered somewhat of a major pest and disturbance of the natural habitat; as a result, they are frequently shot and killed by people in urban environments and farmers alike. Bylaws in South Africa pertaining to the protection of most animal species specifically exclude mynas from this protection.
Morphological studies show that the process of spatial sorting is at work on the range expansion of A. tristis in South Africa. Dispersal-relevant traits are significantly correlated with distance from the range core, with strong sexual dimorphism, indicative of sex-biased dispersal. Morphological variations are significant in wing and head traits of females, suggesting females as the primary dispersing sex. In contrast, traits not related to dispersal such as those associated with foraging show no signs of spatial sorting but are significantly affected by environmental variables such as vegetation and intensity of urbanisation.
To study the invasion genetics and landscape-scale dynamics of A. tristis, scientists have recently developed 16 polymorphic nuclear microsatellite markers  using the next generation sequencing (NGS) approach.
Effect on ecosystems and humans
Threat to native birds
The common myna is a hollow-nesting species; that is, it nests and breeds in protected hollows found either naturally in trees or artificially on buildings (for example, recessed windowsills or low eaves). Compared to native hollow-nesting species, the common myna is extremely aggressive, and breeding males will actively defend areas ranging up to 0.83 hectares in size (though males in densely populated urban settings tend to only defend the area immediately surrounding their nests).
This aggressiveness has enabled the common myna to displace many breeding pairs of native hollow-nesters, thereby reducing their reproductive success. In Australia, their aggressiveness has enabled them to chase native birds as large as galahs out of their nests.
The common myna is also known to maintain up to two roosts simultaneously; a temporary summer roost close to a breeding site (where the entire local male community sleeps during the summer, the period of highest aggression), and a permanent all-year roost where the female broods and incubates overnight. Both male and female common mynas will fiercely protect both roosts at all times, leading to further exclusion of native birds.
Threat to crops and pasture
The common myna (which feeds mostly on ground-dwelling insects, tropical fruits such as grapes, plums and some berries and, in urban areas, discarded human food) poses a serious threat to Australian blueberry crops, though its main threat is to native bird species.
In Hawaii, where the common myna was introduced to control pest armyworms and cutworms in sugarcane crops, the bird has helped to spread the robust Lantana camara weed across the islands’ open grasslands. It also has been recorded as the fourth-ranking avian pest in the fruit industry by a 2004 survey of the Hawaiian Farm Bureau and the sixth in number of complaints of avian pests overall.
The common myna widely appears under the name saarika in Indian culture from Vedic times, featuring both in classical Indian literature (Sanskrit) as well as in Prakrit Buddhist texts. The Sankrit term shuksarika, which refers to the rose-ringed parakeet (shuk) and the common myna (saarika), is used to indicate a pair or a couple, probably because both birds are vocal and capable of mimicking human sound.
In Sanskrit literature, the common myna has a number of names, most are descriptive of the appearance or behaviour of the bird. In addition to saarika, the names for the common myna include kalahapriya, which means "one who is fond of arguments" referring to the quarrelsome nature of this bird; chitranetra, meaning "picturesque eyes"; peetanetra (one with yellow eyes) and peetapaad (one with yellow legs).
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