Invasive Species Compendium

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Datasheet

Acridotheres tristis
(common myna)

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Datasheet

Acridotheres tristis (common myna)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 08 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Vector of Plant Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Acridotheres tristis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • common myna
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Aves
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • The common myna (Acridotheres tristis), also called the Indian myna, is a highly commensal passerine that lives in close association with humans, being most successful in disturbed habita...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Acridotheres tristis is approximately 25-26cm in length with a relatively heavy build. The head, neck and upper breast of the adult is glossy black, while the undertail coverts, tail tip and the outer feathers are white.The bill, legs and feet are bright yellow, while the adult iris is reddish brown. Male and female A. tristis are not clearly sexually dimorphic and are thus difficult to identify in the field. Mynas are distinctive in that they walk rather than hop.
TitleAdult
CaptionAcridotheres tristis is approximately 25-26cm in length with a relatively heavy build. The head, neck and upper breast of the adult is glossy black, while the undertail coverts, tail tip and the outer feathers are white.The bill, legs and feet are bright yellow, while the adult iris is reddish brown. Male and female A. tristis are not clearly sexually dimorphic and are thus difficult to identify in the field. Mynas are distinctive in that they walk rather than hop.
Copyright©K.W. Bridges/University of Hawai'i
Acridotheres tristis is approximately 25-26cm in length with a relatively heavy build. The head, neck and upper breast of the adult is glossy black, while the undertail coverts, tail tip and the outer feathers are white.The bill, legs and feet are bright yellow, while the adult iris is reddish brown. Male and female A. tristis are not clearly sexually dimorphic and are thus difficult to identify in the field. Mynas are distinctive in that they walk rather than hop.
AdultAcridotheres tristis is approximately 25-26cm in length with a relatively heavy build. The head, neck and upper breast of the adult is glossy black, while the undertail coverts, tail tip and the outer feathers are white.The bill, legs and feet are bright yellow, while the adult iris is reddish brown. Male and female A. tristis are not clearly sexually dimorphic and are thus difficult to identify in the field. Mynas are distinctive in that they walk rather than hop.©K.W. Bridges/University of Hawai'i
Acridotheres tristis is approximately 25-26cm in length with a relatively heavy build. The head, neck and upper breast of the adult is glossy black, while the undertail coverts, tail tip and the outer feathers are white.The bill, legs and feet are bright yellow, while the adult iris is reddish brown. Male and female A. tristis are not clearly sexually dimorphic and are thus difficult to identify in the field. Mynas are distinctive in that they walk rather than hop.
TitleAdult
CaptionAcridotheres tristis is approximately 25-26cm in length with a relatively heavy build. The head, neck and upper breast of the adult is glossy black, while the undertail coverts, tail tip and the outer feathers are white.The bill, legs and feet are bright yellow, while the adult iris is reddish brown. Male and female A. tristis are not clearly sexually dimorphic and are thus difficult to identify in the field. Mynas are distinctive in that they walk rather than hop.
Copyright©K.W. Bridges/University of Hawai'i
Acridotheres tristis is approximately 25-26cm in length with a relatively heavy build. The head, neck and upper breast of the adult is glossy black, while the undertail coverts, tail tip and the outer feathers are white.The bill, legs and feet are bright yellow, while the adult iris is reddish brown. Male and female A. tristis are not clearly sexually dimorphic and are thus difficult to identify in the field. Mynas are distinctive in that they walk rather than hop.
AdultAcridotheres tristis is approximately 25-26cm in length with a relatively heavy build. The head, neck and upper breast of the adult is glossy black, while the undertail coverts, tail tip and the outer feathers are white.The bill, legs and feet are bright yellow, while the adult iris is reddish brown. Male and female A. tristis are not clearly sexually dimorphic and are thus difficult to identify in the field. Mynas are distinctive in that they walk rather than hop.©K.W. Bridges/University of Hawai'i
Acridotheres tristis is approximately 25-26cm in length with a relatively heavy build. The head, neck and upper breast of the adult is glossy black, while the undertail coverts, tail tip and the outer feathers are white.The bill, legs and feet are bright yellow, while the adult iris is reddish brown. Male and female A. tristis are not clearly sexually dimorphic and are thus difficult to identify in the field. Mynas are distinctive in that they walk rather than hop.
TitleAdult
CaptionAcridotheres tristis is approximately 25-26cm in length with a relatively heavy build. The head, neck and upper breast of the adult is glossy black, while the undertail coverts, tail tip and the outer feathers are white.The bill, legs and feet are bright yellow, while the adult iris is reddish brown. Male and female A. tristis are not clearly sexually dimorphic and are thus difficult to identify in the field. Mynas are distinctive in that they walk rather than hop.
Copyright©K.W. Bridges/University of Hawai'i
Acridotheres tristis is approximately 25-26cm in length with a relatively heavy build. The head, neck and upper breast of the adult is glossy black, while the undertail coverts, tail tip and the outer feathers are white.The bill, legs and feet are bright yellow, while the adult iris is reddish brown. Male and female A. tristis are not clearly sexually dimorphic and are thus difficult to identify in the field. Mynas are distinctive in that they walk rather than hop.
AdultAcridotheres tristis is approximately 25-26cm in length with a relatively heavy build. The head, neck and upper breast of the adult is glossy black, while the undertail coverts, tail tip and the outer feathers are white.The bill, legs and feet are bright yellow, while the adult iris is reddish brown. Male and female A. tristis are not clearly sexually dimorphic and are thus difficult to identify in the field. Mynas are distinctive in that they walk rather than hop.©K.W. Bridges/University of Hawai'i

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Acridotheres tristis

Preferred Common Name

  • common myna

Other Scientific Names

  • Acridotheres tristas Linnaeus
  • Paradisea tristis Linnaeus

International Common Names

  • English: Calcutta myna; common mynah; house myna; Indian myna; Indian mynah; mynah; mynah, common; mynah, Indian; talking myna
  • Spanish: miná común
  • French: martin triste; Martin triste; merle des Moluques

Local Common Names

  • Cook Islands: manu; manu kaomani; manu kavamani; manu rataro; manu teve; piru
  • Czech Republic: majna obecná
  • Denmark: maina
  • Finland: pihamaina
  • Germany: German Indischer mynah; Heuschreckenstar; Hirtenmaina; Hirtenstar
  • Iceland: hjarðmænir
  • Italy: maina comune
  • Japan: kabairohakka
  • Netherlands: treurmaina
  • Poland: majna brunatna
  • Portugal: mainato
  • Sweden: brun majna

EPPO code

  • ACRHTR (Acridotheres tristis)

Summary of Invasiveness

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The common myna (Acridotheres tristis), also called the Indian myna, is a highly commensal passerine that lives in close association with humans, being most successful in disturbed habitats. It competes with small mammals and birds for nesting hollows. On some islands, such as Hawaii and Fiji, it preys on other birds' eggs and chicks, and in Seychelles, it also attacks adults of some small birds. It presents a threat to indigenous biota, especially on islands with endemic fauna, but also in Australia and elsewhere. 

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Aves
  •                     Order: Passeriformes
  •                         Family: Sturnidae
  •                             Genus: Acridotheres
  •                                 Species: Acridotheres tristis

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Three subspecies of Acridotheres tristis are recognised: nominate tristis, from peninsular India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, southern Kazakhstan and southern China; tristoides, from Nepal and Myanmar; and melanosternus, which is endemic to Sri Lanka. There are birds intermediate between tristis and melanosternus in the southern Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The generic name Acridotheres is from the Greek akridothera, loosely meaning ‘locust hunter’.

The genus Acridotheres comprises nine other species (Feare and Craig, 1998): the great myna A. grandis, crested myna A. cristatellus, white-vented myna A. javanicus, pale-bellied myna A. cinereus, jungle myna A. fuscus, collared myna A. albocinctus, bank myna A. ginginianus, vinous-breasted myna A. burmannicus and the black-winged myna A. melanopterus.

Description

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Common mynas are 23 to 26 cm long, weigh 82 to 143 g and have a wingspan of 120 to 142 mm (Markula Hannan-Jones and Csurhes, 2009). The common myna has a medium to heavy build and a cocoa-brown body colour (Massam 2001). The head, neck and upper breast of the adult is glossy black with the head sporting an erectile crest. The undertail coverts, tail tip and the outer feathers are white and white bases to the primary feathers produce a white wing patch that is conspicuous in flight. Skin below the eye and extending into a point behind it is bare and bright yellow (rarely tending towards orange). Juveniles are generally duller, lacking gloss on the black head feathers and lacking the crest. The bill, legs and feet are bright yellow; in adults the lower mandible has a dark greyish mark towards the base. The iris is grey in juveniles but in adults it is highly variable, with a base colour from grey-brown through brown to red, often with inner and/or outer margins differently coloured to the centre, but within the range of grey-brown to red. Almost invariably the adult iris is marked with white spots which are also highly variable in pattern; the significance of this variation in iris colour and pattern is unknown (Feare, unpublished). Male and female A. tristis are not clearly sexually dimorphic and are thus impossible to distinguish in the field (Counsilman et al., 1994) unless they are seen courting or copulating.

Mynas are distinctive birds in that they walk rather than a hop. Like most territorial birds they have a bout of intense calling in the early morning that lasts between 5 and 15 minutes and a more prolonged bout of calling as they arrive at the roost in the evening, but they are also highly vocal throughout the day. Males call more often than the females, and pairs sometimes duet. The territorial call is a rowdy medley of creaky notes, growls, rattles, raucous, gurgling, chattering and bell-like sounds in rapid sequence often strung together as a song. Adults with young utter harsh squarking noises and young learning to fly emit persistent ‘chi-chi-chis’. At their communal roosts mynas maintain a noisy chattering, even well after nightfall and before dawn. To hear samples of the common myna call visit: Tidemann (2007b): Common Indian Myna Website > Identifying Mynas.

Distribution

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Most of the common myna’s indigenous range lies within the tropics and subtropics, up to 30°N, but recent range extensions in Turkey and southern Russia have reached about 40°N. Most of its introduced range also falls within these limits, but reaches over 40°S in Tasmania.

Native Range

The common myna is native to central and southern Asia and is widely distributed throughout India, Afghanistan, Turkestan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka as well as much of southern China and Indochina, and there are signs of spread into Iran and north into southern Russian states and former Soviet countries (Feare and Craig, 1998).

Known Introduced Range

The common myna has been introduced to parts of South East Asia, New Zealand, eastern Australia, southern Africa and Madagascar. It is also present in many islands in the Atlantic Ocean (including the Canary Islands, St Helena and Ascension Island), Indian Ocean (including Réunion, Mauritius, Rodriguez, Comores, Seychelles, Lakshadweep, Maldive Islands, Chagos and east to Andaman and Nicobar Islands) and Pacific Ocean (including Fiji, Tonga, Wallis and Fortuna, New Caledonia, Tokelau, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Cook Islands, Society Islands and French Polynesian islands).

Recently, reports have detailed breeding of common mynas in northern France (P. Clergeau Pers. Comm. 2005; Feare and Craig, 1998) and it is now established locally in southern Florida, USA (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 2003) and may be spreading (Everglades CISMA, 2013). On the tropical Pacific islands of Fiji, Tonga, Samoa (Feare and Craig, 1998), and recently on Kiribati (Teariki, 2003) and Wallis and Furtuna (Lepage, 2007), the common myna has become established alongside the jungle myna (Acridotheres fuscus).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

AfghanistanPresentNativeISSG, 2011
BangladeshPresentNativeISSG, 2011
BhutanPresentNativeISSG, 2011
Brunei DarussalamPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
CambodiaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
ChinaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
-Hong KongPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
IndiaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentIntroduced1867 Invasive ISSG, 2011
-LakshadweepPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-MaharashtraPresentCAB ABSTRACTS Data Mining 2001
-RajasthanPresent
-Uttar PradeshPresentCAB Abstracts
IndonesiaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
IranPresentNativeISSG, 2011
IraqPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
IsraelPresentIntroduced1990s Invasive ISSG, 2011
KazakhstanPresentNativeISSG, 2011
KuwaitPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
LaosPresentNativeISSG, 2011
LebanonPresentNativeISSG, 2011
MalaysiaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
MaldivesPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
MyanmarPresentNativeISSG, 2011
NepalPresentNativeISSG, 2011
OmanPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
PakistanPresentNativeISSG, 2011
QatarPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Saudi ArabiaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
SingaporePresentIntroduced1936 Invasive ISSG, 2011
South East AsiaPresentNative Not invasive ISSG, 2011
Sri LankaPresentNativeISSG, 2011
TajikistanPresentNativeISSG, 2011
ThailandPresentNativeISSG, 2011
TurkeyPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
TurkmenistanPresentNativeISSG, 2011
United Arab EmiratesPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
UzbekistanPresentNativeISSG, 2011
VietnamPresentNativeISSG, 2011

Africa

ComorosPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
EgyptPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
MadagascarPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
MauritiusPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
MayottePresentIntroduced1958 Invasive ISSG, 2011
RéunionPresentIntroduced1760 Invasive ISSG, 2011
Rodriguez IslandPresentIntroducedC Feare, pers. comm.
Saint HelenaPresentIntroducedProbably 1885 /1879 /1820 Invasive ISSG, 2011
-AscensionPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
SeychellesRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
South AfricaPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011

North America

USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FloridaLocalisedIntroducedC Feare, pers. comm.
-HawaiiPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011

Europe

FrancePresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
Russian FederationPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
SpainPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Balearic IslandsRestricted distributionIntroduced1998 Invasive ISSG, 2011

Oceania

American SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-New South WalesPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
-QueenslandPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
-VictoriaPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
Cook IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
FijiPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
French PolynesiaPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
-MarquesasPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
KiribatiPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
Line IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
Midway IslandsPresentIntroduced1974 Invasive ISSG, 2011
New CaledoniaPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
New ZealandPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
SamoaPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
TokelauRestricted distributionIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
TongaPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
VanuatuPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
Wallis and Futuna IslandsPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011

History of Introduction and Spread

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Common mynas have been introduced to many parts of the world. Many introductions were deliberate, often with the intention of providing biological control of insect pests. Accidental introductions most likely resulted from escapes from the cage bird trade. Many of the deliberate introductions took place in the 18th and 19th centuries, of both A.tristis and the race tristoides (Lever 1987).

The earliest deliberate introductions date to the middle of the 18th century, when common mynas were taken from India for release in the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, and from there to Reunion, to control plagues of locusts (Nomadacris septemfasciata) and probably other grasshoppers in the 1760s (Cheke and Hume, 2008). This was probably one of the world’s first attempts at biological pest control (Hawkins and Safford, 2013). Later in the 18th century mynas were taken from Mauritius to Seychelles and from Reunion to Madagascar, both for insect control and as cage birds. In September 1862 Newton (1863) saw a pair of common mynas at Fenerive (Toamasina), on the eastern coast of Madagascar. He thought that the birds had been introduced to St Mary’s Island (Nosy Boraha) just offshore but did not explain why. According to Lever (1987), the first introduction may have taken place at the end of the 18th century, followed by another in 1875. Subsequently, A. tristis now occupies areas of suitable habitat throughout Madagascar and, according to Safford and Hawkins (2013), is the only known introduced bird that has become widespread on the island.

In the early 1800s, common mynas were introduced to Agalega from Mauritius to control a variety of insects and also scorpions, and according to Lever (1987) there may have been a second introduction to Seychelles at about the same time. Around the turn of the century they were introduced to Anjouan in the Comores, from where they had subsequently spread to the remaining three large islands by 1960 (Benson, 1960). In 1905, common mynas were found to be established on Egmont atoll in the Chagos group, having escaped from captivity (at this time Chagos was administered by Mauritius, which was the likely origin of these birds in this instance). By 1953 Common mynas were present on the main atoll of the group, Diego Garcia (Bourne, 1971), to which introduced birds are now restricted (Carr, 2011). They have also been introduced to the Lakshadweep (an island off the western coast of India) and Maldives (Ali and Ripley, 1972) but have subsequently died out in the latter (Grimmett et al., 1998). According to Ali and Ripley (1972) common mynas were introduced to the Andaman Islands around 1867 and possibly also to the Nicobars; the origin would most likely have been India and the birds are said to have been introduced as scavengers to assist in the removal of rubbish.

Introductions to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa followed in the second half of the 19th century. In the first two countries, these introductions occurred at a time when ‘Acclimatisation Societies’ were actively importing a variety of birds from Europe. Neither the origin nor the reason for introducing the common myna to Australia are known, but import from its native range in India or Afghanistan have been suggested and pest control is a likely reason (Hone, 1978). Acclimatisation Societies and private individuals introduced several hundred common mynas from Australia into New Zealand’s South Island in the 1870s. They were first introduced to North Island by the Wellington Acclimatisation Society in 1877 (Lever, 1987).

An attempt to introduce common mynas from Mauritius to Durban, South Africa, in 1888 was unsuccessful and the current population in Kwa Zulu Natal apparently derives from birds released in 1902 by a cage bird dealer (Peacock et al., 2007); these birds are of the subspecies tristoides (Brooke, 1976). Another introduction into South Africa, in Johannesburg in the 1930s, was of the nominate race tristis (Brooke et al., 1986) but their origin appears to be unknown. However, there is some debate over the identity of the subspecies present in South Africa, and whether the apparent Johannesburg release represented a different introduction from those in Kwa Zulu Natal (Peacock et al., 2007). There is confusion over the date of introduction of common mynas to St Helena, in the south Atlantic, with both 1815 and 1885 given (Lever, 1987). Further confusion arises from the alleged presence there of the hill myna Gracula religiosa, said to have been introduced in 1929; if these were here they have certainly not survived (Rowlands et al., 1998; Ashmole and Ashmole, 2008). Common mynas were introduced to control cattle ticks (McCulloch, 1992) but their region of origin is not stated. However, if they are of the subspecies tristoides, as claimed by Holyoak and Thibault (1984), this suggests a possible South African origin and importation from Kwa Zulu Natal. If this is the case, however, this would have pre-dated the introduction of this subspecies to Durban. While there are clearly uncertainties regarding the common myna in St Helena, it is known the several consignments were imported from Mauritius to Ascension Island (Ashmole and Ashmole, 2008) around 1815, to control insects (Lever, 1987).

In the Pacific, common mynas were introduced to Hawaii in the mid-1860s, directly from India, to control armyworms Laphygma exempta or Cirphis unipuncta and cutworms Spodoptera spp. in the island’s grasslands (Lever, 1987). They have subsequently spread to the major volcanic islands and had reached the remote atolls of Kure and Midway by 1974 (Lever, 1987) but the mechanism of this spread has not been described.

According to Medway and Marshall (1975), common mynas reached Vanuatu in the 1880s when a ship, carrying caged birds to Fiji, was wrecked off the island of Tanna. They have since spread northwards up the archipelago and reached western Santo (Bregulla, 1992). They are now widely distributed in Vanuatu, New Caledonia and the Solomons (Dutson, 2011), but whether these populations derive from the escape of birds on Tanna, or whether some come from independent introductions, is not recorded.

Common mynas were introduced to Fiji in 1890-1900, or possibly earlier (Long, 1981), directly from India in order to control insect pests of sugar cane (Lever, 1987). The Indian human population of Fiji has kept them as cage birds to the extent that people walk around with them in their cages, from which they sometimes escape or are deliberately released. This has doubtless facilitated their spread among the larger islands, most of which have now been colonised (Watling, 2001; Nagle, 2006). This might also account for their recent establishment on Nauru (Fagane, 2005), which has regular communications with Fiji. In addition, cyclones have been identified as possible agents in dispersal of common mynas among Pacific islands.

Chronologically, the next introduction to the Pacific islands was to Tahiti, where common mynas were imported between 1908 and 1915 to control wasps (Lever, 1987, quoting Bruner, 1972), but the origin of these birds does not appear to have been recorded. From Tahiti common mynas have colonised neighbouring islands (Lever, 1987), a process that may still be continuing. At about this time common mynas were also introduced, for pest control, to Raratonga, but the origin of the birds is uncertain; both Tahiti and New Zealand have been postulated (Lever, 1987).

From these beginnings in the Pacific common mynas have spread during the 20th century to other island groups within Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia (e.g. Western and American Samoa, Kiribati, Palau) and this spread, sometimes accompanied by the jungle myna Acridotheres fuscus, may continue with increasing human connectivity between islands.

In addition to the regions where common mynas might be expected to reach, they periodically become established in areas more remote from centres of dispersal. Small numbers became established in the Spanish Canary and Balearic Islands (Live Arico, 2007a,b) and in northern France (Hars, 1991); in France, occasional breeding has been reported in other locations but none of these groups have been self-sustaining (Dubois, 2007).

In Japan, they have been observed in the Kanto district (Honshu Island) since 1961 and breed in three Tokyo prefectures. They are also present on some of the Ryukyu islands but breeding there has not been confirmed (National Institute for Environmental Studies, undated). In the United States a breeding population was established in Los Angeles in the 1940s but has since died out (Lever, 1987). Since 1983 they have bred in southern Florida, centred around Miami, but the population is increasing and spreading, and the range now includes the Everglades (AOU, undated; Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 2003).

Around the borders of the species’ native range some of the factors that underlie distribution change become blurred, making it difficult to distinguish natural spread from artificial introduction. In the south, range extension (through southern Myanmar and Thailand into Malaysia and eventually Singapore) is attributed to forest clearance and its replacement with agricultural and urban environments, but it is possible that escape or deliberate release of cage birds may also have been involved. Common mynas were first reported in Hong Kong in 1952 (Chalmers, 1986). Hong Kong is only c. 350 km from Hainan, the easternmost extent of the species range in southern China. However, Hong Kong, along with Taiwan, has many bird markets and its Chinese inhabitants, particularly Buddhists, widely practise ‘prayer release’ or ‘merit release’ of captive birds (Gilbert et al., 2012), a practice that might have facilitated the deliberate release of common mynas in both territories and has been considered a risk for dispersal of invasive species (Liu et al., 2012). A northward extension of the species’ range in central Asia appears to be a natural dispersal (Feare and Craig, 1998), but the situation is less clear with its northwestern spread in the Middle East. While recent expansion within Israel is most likely associated with release of captive birds from a zoo (Holzapfel et al., 2006), the timeline of spread around the western countries of the Arabian Gulf and into Iraq and Turkey (Holzapfel et al., 2006) does not exclude the possibility of range extension from Iran, with the establishment of new populations facilitated by agricultural and urban development, and associated irrigation, in the Gulf region.

Risk of Introduction

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The 18th and 19th centuries saw a series of introductions of common mynas with the intention of combating insect pests of agriculture. They have also been transported as cage birds. Once established in their new range, common mynas have proved adept at spreading locally, both on their own or with human help, even in some instances managing to overcome significant water barriers.

The widespread desire to keep common mynas in cages as pets, and the industry that supports and encourages this, continue to present a serious risk of local dispersal and has demonstrably led to the recent establishment of new populations remote from existing ones, such as in Europe, the USA and Japan. Tackling this risk will be difficult, although in 2007 the European Union permanently banned the importation of wild birds (imposed originally to reduce the risk of the importation of H5N1 avian influenza) (RSPB, 2007).

All attempts to introduce common mynas to new places, for any reason, must be discouraged. Particularly in archipelagos, eradication of common mynas in one location still leaves the risk of re-invasion from local sources.

Habitat

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The common myna inhabits flood plains, grasslands, cultivated areas, plantations, desert oases, the foothills of various mountain ranges and urban areas (Feare and Craig, 1999). Most of the common myna’s indigenous range lies within the tropics and subtropics.

The common myna evolved in open woodland habitats in India (Sengupta, 1968) but it has become so closely associated with human-modified habitats, including urban habitats and cultivated land (Ali and Ripley, 1972), that it is often regarded as commensal with man. Common mynas reach their highest densities in modified habitats near human establishments, including cities, towns, villages, farmland, rural dwellings, parks, gardens and roadsides (Gill, 1999; Heather and Robertson, 2000). In Australia it is said to prefer human-modified woodland (Tidemann 2007e) and its density is positively correlated with increasing urbanisation (van Rensburg et al., 2009, Lowe et al., 2011). They also reach high population densities on small tropical islands (Feare, unpublished).

The common myna is able to adapt to a wide range of climates and habitats and will use different habitats to suit its needs. In Fiji and the Seychelles it sometimes feeds and drinks on the seashore, eating littoral invertebrates and detritus (Feare, 1994). In Singapore it is strongly associated with agricultural and farm areas but roosts at night in the city, where it commonly roosts among monoclonal stands of tall densely canopied trees in built-up areas (Hails 1985; Yap et al., 2002; Lim et al., 2003). In Australia mynas prefer nature reserves, especially the perimeters (Pell and Tidemann, 1997). While reserves provide excellent environments for the myna in Australia and are home to large numbers of mynas during the breeding season, in the winter months mynas find refuge in surrounding suburban areas (Pell and Tidemann, 1997).

The common myna prefers warmer climates. For example, in New Zealand, it tends to avoid colder regions in the south such as Nelson; but it does establish stable populations near piggery sheds where sufficient heat is produced by the pigs to maintain a relatively high temperature; in addition there is an abundance of pig food available (P.R. Wilson Pers. Comm.).

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Biology and Ecology

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Nutrition

Common myna are omnivorous and eat fruits, berries, grains, flower nectar, insects (including beetle larvae and adults, caterpillars, worms, flies, snails) and spiders. They also scavenge on street litter and at rubbish dumps, on animal food and waste at farms and on roadkill. Nestlings are fed for the first ten days exclusively on invertebrates, primarily insects (Markula Hannan-Jones and Csurhes, 2009). When insects are scarce, fruits and seeds make up a more important component of their diet (Peacock et al., 2007). At such times, common mynas can become agricultural pests (Peacock et al., 2007), feeding on the ripening fruit and seeds of plants such as figs, papaya, mango, chilli, dates, apple, pear, tomato, and cereal crops such as maize, wheat and rice. Mynas are egg predators (Feare and Craig, 1998), and are known to eat birds' eggs (of seabirds as well as smaller birds) and chicks, as well as attacking adults of small species. They can also take small reptiles.

Common mynas are predominantly ground feeders, taking prey from the surface or sub-surface in short pasture and grain stubble, but will opportunistically feed in flowering or fruiting trees and bushes and scavenge on human waste (Feare and Craig, 1999). In their native range of southern Asia the myna is typically a bird of human-modified habitats, but it will form flocks in rural areas which eat insects and other invertebrates turned up in the cultivated soil by the plough (Australian Museum 2003).

Reproduction

Common mynas  are believed to pair for life (Sengupta, 1982) and maintain the same territory from year to year. They build cup-shaped nests out of dry grass, twigs and leaves, and sometimes string, paper, plastic. They construct nests in tree hollows, crowns of living and dead coconut trees, clefts in cliffs, walls buildings or thick vegetation, such as dense clumps of New Zealand flax Phormium tenax in St Helena (Ashmole and Ashmole, 2000).

The common myna usually raises two broods per season, laying up to six pale greenish-blue eggs (3.1cm x 2.2cm; Massam, 2001) in each clutch, with an average of four. Both sexes brood and care for the young (Massam, 2001). In New Zealand they lay eggs from mid-October to early March, with the highest egg-laying activity from November to January. In Australia up to three broods of young may be produced in one season. Both sexes brood and care for the young (Massam, 2001). Breeding in southern Africa begins in September (Clancey, 1964). In the Malagasy region they breed in the austral summer, October to January (Safford and Hawkins, 2013). In the Seychelles they breed mainly during the wet season, September to March (Skerrett et al., 1998), but can be seen nest-building in most months (Feare, unpublished).

Lifecycle Stages

Both sexes incubate the eggs for 13 to 14 days but the female devotes more time than the male. The fledging period lasts between 20 to 32 days, averaging 25 days. Parents feed the chicks as long as three weeks after they have left the nest (Massam, 2001). Sexual maturity occurs at nine to 12 months. Juveniles form small flocks and may form mating pairs at as young as nine months old, although few breed in their first year. Life span averages four years in the wild, possibly up to 12 years for some individuals (Markula Hannan-Jones and Csurhes, 2009).

Common mynas are omnivorous scavengers and will feed on fruits, berries, grains, flower nectar, insects (including beetle larvae and adults, caterpillars, worms, flies, snails) and spiders. Nestlings are fed for the first ten days exclusively on invertebrates, primarily insects (Markula Hannan-Jones & Csurhes 2009). When insects are scarce, fruits and seeds make up a more important component of their diet (Peacock van Renburg & Robertson 2007). At such times, common mynas can become agricultural pests (Peacock van Renburg & Robertson 2007), feeding on the ripening fruit and seeds of plants such as figs, papaya, dates, apple, pear, tomato, and cereal crops such as maize, wheat and rice. Mynas are egg predators (Feare & Craig 1998), and are known to consume birds' eggs and chicks, as well as small reptiles.
Common mynas are highly adaptable to human habitations (Sontag & Louette 2007) and local food resources. For example, they has been known to consume pet food (Australian Museum 2003) and forage on the seashore for worms, molluscs, crustaceans and other seafood stranded on the mud flats (Stoner 1923). They also scavenge rubbish dumps, pastures, farmyards and roads for roadkill.
They are predominantly ground feeders, pecking prey from the surface in short pasture and grain stubble, but will opportunistically feed in flowering or fruiting trees and bushes (Feare and Craig 1999). In their native range of southern Asia the myna forms flocks in rural areas, which feast on insects and grubs turned up in the cultivated soil by the plough (Australian Museum 2003).

Phenotypic Variation

In their introduced ranges common mynas display some phenotypic adaptability. Baker and Moeed (1979) found that common mynas introduced on North Island, New Zealand, showed variations in several morphological characteristics, some of which were sex specific, relating to latitude (birds being larger in the warmer north), precipitation and altitude. In South Africa, Berthouly-Salazar et al. (2012) identified differences in morphological characteristics likely to be associated with dispersal ability between birds within the core of their present range and on the margins of the expansion zone. Especially in females, which they found to be the dispersive sex, wing length and head size were larger at the expansion front than in the species’ established areas.

Activity Patterns

The common myna is resident throughout its native and introduced range, apart from in higher parts of its distribution in the Himalayas, where it is an altitudinal migrant (Ali and Ripley, 1972). Where studied, its movements are generally very limited. Kang (1992) radio-tracked birds in Singapore and found that common mynas had very small home ranges of only 0.1 km2 and that the average distance from their roost to their main activity centres was 0.4 km. Berthouly-Salazar et al. (2012) considered dispersal distances to be <16 km, although in South Africa one ringed common myna was reported 381 km from its original capture site (Oschadleus, 2001).

The common myna prefers to forage in open, grassy habitats (Crisp and Lill, 2006, in Newey 2007), either alone or in groups, and roosts in isolated stands of tall trees. In Fiji and the Seychelles, less densely canopied trees such as coconut palms are sometimes used for roosting and refuge (Stoner, 1923; Feare et al., 1994). Common mynas show flexibility in their roosting behaviour. While they generally roost communally, often in large groups, some birds roost individually in cavities (possibly former nest sites). On Bird Island, Seychelles, they did not roost communally in 1973, and instead roosted widely in trees over the island (Feare, 1976), whereas in 2013 they did roost communally in two large trees, Caliphyllum inophyllum and Eugenia javanica. On Fregate Island, Seychelles, common mynas were observed in 1992 assembled in the evenings in coastal coconut palms, creating the sound typical of large communal roosts, but dispersed among the coconut tree crowns at dusk to roost in their pairs in a large number of trees (Feare et al., 1994).

Population Size and Density

The density of common mynas is highly variable as it is strongly dependent on habitat characteristics. Estimated densities also vary according to estimation methods used, time of day, time of year and temporal changes in availability of food. Estimates (from line transects) from Canberra, Australia, range from 15/km2 in 1991 (Avian Web, 2013) to 189 ± 136 km2 in July/August of 2004 (C. Tidemann, pers. comm.); Cairns Bentley Park, a suburb of Cairns, northern Australia, had a much higher estimate in March 2006 of 566 ± 117 km2.

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Little is known of predators of common mynas. Ali and Ripley (1972) mentioned noisy defence against cats and snakes, and introduced cats and native snakes may take mynas (and snakes possibly take their eggs) where mynas have been introduced. Snakes may also take myna eggs.

 

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Introduction Pathways to New Locations

Acclimatisation societies: In New Zealand acclimatisation societies were active in importing wild animals, including, in the 1870s, common mynas. Introductions of mynas to Australia occurred around the same time but according to Long (1984) it is not known whether acclimatisation societies were responsible in Australia.

Other: On large landmasses, including within large islands, invasion pathways appear to be primarily along roads (Tidemann, 2005).

Pet/aquarium trade: The pathway to the Spanish islands has been via pet shops and later escapes from the home cages. In Polynesia the transport of caged birds by people is a likely means of dispersal and in Hong Kong and Taiwan prayer release of birds bought in local markets may have contributed to common myna introductions.

Ship: On oceanic islands, invasion pathways appear to be primarily via ships, particularly large ferries (Tearika, 2003; D. Watling pers. comm.).

Botanical garden/zoo: In Israel, mynas escaped from a private facility of exotic birds in the centre of the Tel Aviv public park.

Local Dispersal Methods

Escaped mynas will breed in the wild and expand their territory unaided.

 

Pathway Causes

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Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Land vehicles Yes
Ship structures above the water line Yes

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production Positive and negative
Native fauna Negative
Rare/protected species Negative

Economic Impact

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Compiled by IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG):

Many negative impacts of common mynas have been identified but not quantified. Some may be important on a local scale, such as in private gardens and smallholdings, but most are unlikely to have major economic significance.

Flocks of common myna are known to damage fruit crops, including grapes, apricots, apples, pears, strawberries, figs and gooseberries (Heather and Robertson, 1997). In the tropics they eat papaya, mangoes, bananas, carambole (star fruit), java apple, golden apple, tomato, chilli and other cultivated fruits.

The preference of common mynas for open grassland leads them to congregate on airfields, especially in the late afternoon. This sometimes leads them to be involved in bird strikes with jet aircraft, but their relatively low body mass usually means any damage caused is less serious than with larger birds (Mathew et al., 2003; Australian Transport Safety Bureau, 2008). Disposal of refuse or waste from food outlets can compound the attraction of common mynas to airports.

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Biodiversity

Common mynas are believed to have both positive and negative impacts on biodiversity. Positive impacts concern the pollination of flowers, especially of trees, and the dispersal of the seeds of native plants (Feare and Craig, 1998). Negative impacts are perceived to stem from the common myna’s dominance over and competition with indigenous fauna, especially endangered birds, over food and nest sites, predation of eggs, chicks and sometimes adults, and the spread of invasive plants and pathogens. The concerns thus range from broad communities to individual species.

At the community scale, studies of the impacts of common mynas have produced conflicting results. Pell and Tidemann (1997) examined interactions between common mynas and indigenous cavity-nesting parrots in two nature parks in the suburbs of Canberra, Australia. In    agonistic encounters mynas generally dominated parrots and the authors found some evidence of mynas taking over active parrot nests, concluding that they had uncovered ‘strong circumstantial evidence’ that mynas were depressing the reproductive output of crimson and eastern rosellas (Platycircus elegans and P. exemius).

Lowe et al. (2011), in Sydney, Australia, found little interaction between common mynas and native birds and concluded that the former had little impact on the latter. Grarock et al. (2012), on the other hand, examined a long term dataset of bird abundance in Canberra, Australia, which covered a period of introduction and establishment of common mynas in the study sites. This study also accounted for the effects of changes in habitats associated with expansion of human influence during the course of the dataset. Grarock et al. (2012) found a negative relationship between myna establishment and the long-term population trends of three native cavity-nesting species and eight small species, six of them native.

In community studies it is difficult to tease out the roles of potential competition/displacement between introduced species and their native cohabitants, and the responses of the two to habitat changes, usually those imposed by man. Grarock et al. (2013a) found that the negative relationships between the abundances of common mynas and native parrots in habitats with differing tree densities were explained mainly by the habitat preferences of the birds. In habitats with the greatest myna abundance, however, there was some evidence that they interfered with some breeding attempts of parrots that were attempting to nest in their less-preferred habitats.

It is the perceived negative impacts that have led the common myna to be regarded as one of the world’s most invasive species, and for calls for its management in many areas where it has been introduced. However, the perception of negative impacts has proved difficult to translate into good evidence and many instances of threats to wildlife and people are little more than anecdotal. Nevertheless, part of the problem lies in the difficulty of studying myna-biodiversity interactions, especially in remote places with few resources such as small tropical islands. In such places, where some of the allegedly threatened species survive in very small populations, it is wise to adopt a precautionary approach and react to the perceived threats.

This approach is supported by studies of the responses of endemic birds on small islands to the removal of mynas. On Moturoa Island, New Zealand, Tindall et al. (2007) recorded increases in numbers of birds, both introduced and native, when common myna numbers were reduced by trapping. Increases in the numbers of the native tui Prosthemadera novaeseelandii, grey warbler Gerygone igata and the introduced blackbird Turdus merula were attributed to the reduction in predation and interference from mynas.

Ongoing studies in the Seychelles by Jildou van der Woude and colleagues (pers. comm.) are monitoring the response of endemic seychelles warblers Acrocephalus sechellensis, which were introduced to Denis Island to establish an insurance population, to the reduction in the numbers of common mynas during an eradication attempt (Feare, 2010a). Before the eradication attempt around 25 % of the warblers caught in mist nets had serious head injuries, as did some Seychelles fodies Foudia sechellensis and Seychelles flycatchers Terpsiphone corvine, species endemic to the Seychelles that, along with the Seychelles magpie robin Copsychus sehclellensis, had also been introduced to establish insurance populations. Monitoring, following the reduction in the myna population, is still ongoing and no results have yet been published, but there are signs that the populations of magpie robins are producing more young and flycatchers are increasing (Feare, pers. obs.; Georgia French, pers. comm.). There are also signs that the number of white terns Gygis alba has increased and individuals are nesting in lower vegetation than before (Feare, pers. obs). These observations should be highly instructive in determining the impact of common mynas on endangered species that are introduced to an island where mynas were already established.

Impact on Habitat

The nectarivorous and frugivorous components of the common myna’s diet give it role in the pollination and seed dispersal of some plants. This is regarded as a valuable ecosystem service in its native range (Feare and Craig, 1998). Its role in the propagation of native vegetation in places where mynas have been introduced appears unknown. Its role in dispersing non-native food plants is regarded as beneficial in some places, such as the Seychelles, where it disperses papaya (Feare, personal observation), but this is largely offset by the damage they do to fruit. In extreme cases, such as in St Helena, mynas are responsible for spreading the seeds of invasive plants, especially Lantana camara and Schinus terebinthifolia, the spread of which has transformed some of the island’s landscapes and could be restricting the recolonisation by endemic plants (Ashmole and Ashmole, 2008).

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Acrocephalus caffer (Tahiti reed-warbler)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered)French Polynesia
Acrocephalus kerearako (Cook Islands reed-warbler)NT (IUCN red list: Near threatened) NT (IUCN red list: Near threatened)Cook IslandsISSG, 2011
Aplonis cinerascens (Raratonga starling)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)Cook IslandsCompetition - monopolizing resourcesISSG, 2011
Bebrornis sechellensisVU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)SeychellesPredation
Charadrius sanctaehelenae (St Helena plover)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)Saint HelenaPredationISSG, 2011
Collocalia leucophaeusVU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)French Polynesia
Copsychus sechellarumEN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered)Seychelles
Cyanoramphus novaezelandiaeVU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)New Zealand
Foudia sechellarumNT (IUCN red list: Near threatened) NT (IUCN red list: Near threatened)SeychellesPredation
Humblotia flavirostrisEN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered)ComorosPredation
Hypsipetes olivaceus (Mauritius black bulbul)VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)MauritiusCompetition; Predation
Otus capnodes (Anjouan scops owlp)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)ComorosCompetition - monopolizing resourcesISSG, 2011
Otus insularis (Seychelles owl)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered)SeychellesCompetition
Otus pauliani (Grand Comoro scops owl)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)ComorosCompetition - monopolizing resourcesISSG, 2011
Pomarea mendozae (Marquesan monarch)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered)French Polynesia
Pomarea nigra (Tahitian monarch)CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)French PolynesiaISSG, 2011
Psittacula eques (Mauritius parakeet)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered)MauritiusCompetition - monopolizing resourcesISSG, 2011
Ptilinopus rarotongensis (Cook Islands fruit dove)VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)Cook IslandsPredation
Terpsiphone corvinaCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)Seychelles
Todirhamphus godeffroyiCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)French PolynesiaPredationISSG, 2011
Todirhamphus ruficollaris (Mangaia kingfisher)VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable) VU (IUCN red list: Vulnerable)Cook IslandsCompetition - monopolizing resourcesISSG, 2011
Zosterops modestus (Seychelles white eye)EN (IUCN red list: Endangered) EN (IUCN red list: Endangered)SeychellesPredationISSG, 2011

Social Impact

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Adapted from the IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG):

The introduction of common mynas to the Andaman Islands in order to assist urban hygiene suggests that in India their scavenging is believed to help in refuse disposal. Further beneficial considerations stem from their popularity as pets and in religious use for merit release.

Mynas roost in numbers as great as 5000 (Markula et al., 2009). They are highly vocal throughout the year, especially at dusk and dawn when they settle in and emerge from their night roosts. In some places, especially Singapore, this has led them to be regarded as a public nuisance. Their droppings are also a nuisance (Yap et al., 2002, in Lim et al., 2003) and public health concern, although compared with their relative the common starling (Sturnus vulgaris), relatively small quantities of droppings accumulate under common myna roosts (Feare, 1984and pers. obs.). Common myna can also be a residential nuisance as they build nests in spouting and drainpipes (Stoner, 1923). Mynas fearlessly steal food off plates which may be a hygiene or general nuisance for restaurants and other shops, and they scavenge food from people’s houses and gardens.

Common mynas pose a human health risk as they can carry bird mites such as Ornithonyssus bursa and Dermanyssus gallinae that may infect humans. These mites can also cause dermatitis, asthma, severe irritation and rashes. Their droppings can spread ornithosis and salmonellosis. Mynas can host arboviruses (Bill Handke, pers. comm.) that can be transmitted to humans through bites from arthropods. They may also carry owl flies, biting lice, Oxyspirrura thread worm and round worm (Stoner, 1923). Mynas are known to carry avian malaria (Massam, 2001).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
Impact outcomes
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of endangered species
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Causes allergic responses
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Pest and disease transmission
  • Fouling
  • Herbivory/grazing/browsing
  • Predation

Uses

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In India the common myna is referred to as the farmer’s friend because it protects crops by eating insect pests. The myna has been deliberately introduced to continental landmasses and islands with warm temperate to tropical climates, ostensibly to control invertebrate pests (Case 1996; Veltman et al., 1996; Feare and Craig, 1998).

Many myna species are accomplished mimics and can be taught to speak; for this reason the myna is a much sought-after pet in some parts of the world (Tidemann, 2005). In Mallorca and the Canary Islands, Spain, several pet birds have escaped or been released into the wild.

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Biological control

General

  • Pet/aquarium trade

Detection and Inspection

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At dusk common mynas frequently seem to favour short grassland in which they feed and at this time of day lawns, airstrips and similar habitats are good places to check for their presence. Most of the day, but especially in the mornings and evenings, they are vocal and their loud calls and songs can indicate their presence.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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The most likely species the common myna could be confused with are other members of the genus Acridotheres, most of which are blackish with white wing patches. In Hong Kong the common myna lives alongside the native crested myna A. cristatellus, but the crested myna is almost entirely black with a very prominent tuft of feathers on the forehead and an ivory-white bill.

On several Polynesian islands both the common myna and the jungle myna have become established. The plumage of the jungle myna is dark grey but paler below, its bill is more orange with a bluish base to the lower mandible, and it lacks the yellow peri-orbital skin of the common myna, but has a conspicuous yellow eye and a tuft of forehead feathers.

The common myna may be confused with a native Australian honeyeater known as the yellow-throated miner (Manorina flavigula). However, the cocoa colour, raucous voice, white wing patches and ground-frequenting habit of the common myna will usually distinguish it from the honeyeater. It is also sometimes confused with the slightly larger (24cm - 29cm) noisy miner, Manorina melanocephala, another native Australian honeyeater. Both species have yellow bills, legs and bare eye skin, but the common myna is brown with a black head, and in flight it shows large white wing patches, whereas the noisy miner is mostly grey (Australian Museum, 2003).

Prevention and Control

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Ideally, every step should be taken to discourage common mynas from reaching areas where they are not native and have not yet naturalised; this almost invariably means persuading people not to allow them to escape from captivity, to deny mynas access to transport links that could enable them to travel, and especially to prohibit people from introducing them deliberately to previously unoccupied areas. Where common mynas are already established in areas where they are not native, decisions must be made whether to take any action against them or not. Decision making can be assisted using the risk assessment procedure of Bomford (2003). If action is deemed appropriate, the nature of the action – either maintaining numbers at reduced levels or complete eradication – must be addressed.

Prevention

Most introductions of common mynas, deliberate and accidental, have involved transport and release. Prevention of future introductions must therefore target both transport and release, and cover all levels of these activities, from movement and release of individual birds to larger consignments, and by individual people through to organisations. This will require education at all levels of society, maintenance of vigilance on transport systems and in their destinations, strict border controls (even among islands in archipelagos, among states in large countries, and among countries in assemblies like the EU), and adequate legislation and enforcement to support the confiscation of mynas in transit and the eradication of any discovered in new regions.

Post-Establishment Problem Limitation

In some circumstances it might be possible to reduce the problems caused by common mynas by limiting their access to resources in the areas where they cause problems. For example, they could be physically excluded from food stores and food outlets by netting, although this kind of approach is unlikely to be relevant to biodiversity problems caused by mynas. In the Seychelles attempts have been made to dissuade mynas from hotel restaurants by placing abundant food outside the restaurant before meal times, in the hope that birds would not be hungry while guests are eating. This approach failed and led to an increase in bird populations , mainly of non-native species including mynas (Feare, pers. obs.).

Post-Establishment Population Reduction

The disadvantage of a population reduction strategy is that it must be sustained, involving on-going labour requirement and high costs. However, where populations are large and wherever rapid recolonisation is likely, there may be no alternative. This is currently being practised in Canberra, Australia, where a community action group is trapping large numbers of mynas annually, which is certainly reducing the numbers but does not provide any prospect of eradication (King, 2010; CIMAG, 2013).

Eradication

Eradication of common mynas should be the goal on isolated islands, where native fauna and flora have been demonstrated to be negatively impacted or where there is a clear risk of this, and in other areas where mynas have been reported for the first time and thus could represent founder populations. Eradication of small populations has been achieved (Saavedra, 2010), but eradication of a population of hundreds of mynas has only so far been achieved on Fregate Island, Seychelles (Canning, 2010). The cost of this operation was not estimated. However, eradication is time-consuming and labour intensive, and therefore expensive, but probably much less so than rodent eradications which, although they can now be achieved over relatively short time-frames, often involve the use of expensive equipment and expertise (Martins et al., 2006).

Physical Control

Deterrents

Physical barriers will exclude common mynas from localised food sources, such as food stores, fruit gardens and restaurants that are under cover. A large variety of netting materials and fixings is now available from pest control companies worldwide.Scaring devices, such as models of predators, sound producing devices (including distress calls) and balloons and kites (sometimes painted with eyes or to resemble avian predators), may be effective for a short period but mynas are intelligent and are soon likely to learn that these devices pose no threat, after which they will not deter mynas.

Habitat Management

Common mynas are able to locate invertebrate food at or just beneath the surface of grassland (Feare and Craig, 1998), which is often their main source of dietary animal protein. Grassland is thus a preferred habitat and common mynas frequently feed on managed lawns, in park grassland, sports fields, grass airstrips and similar areas. Mynas are generally less attracted to dense forest, except when trees are fruiting, which is often localised in time and space in mixed forest. Replacement of open grasslands with woodland or dense indigenous bush (preferably bush that does not depend on birds for seed dispersal) could reduce the availability of preferred foods for mynas and should be considered as a valuable management option, especially where endemic or indigenous woodland birds are present. This approach has proved beneficial on some small islands where endemic birds have been introduced to establish insurance populations (Samways et al., 2010), and Grarock et al. (2013b) highlighted the value of habitat restoration for the management of myna populations and for safeguarding native birds in mainland situations.

The scavenging habits of mynas lead them to exploit a wide variety of human discards. High standards of waste management in domestic and urban situations, at open food outlets, on farms and especially at refuse disposal sites (such as rapidly covering waste with soil) can contribute to the reduction of food available to mynas.

Shooting

On several islands in Seychelles mynas have been shot, sometimes in the hundreds, but eradication of island populations has not been achieved by this method and the problem of birds becoming averse to people with guns has been highlighted (Millet et al., 2004). In these eradication attempts shooting has not been sustained. Greg Wepener (pers. comm.), working on North Island, Seychelles, maintained that shooting with a rifle was effective when birds were arriving to roost in the evenings, but shooting carried a risk that birds learn to avoid people, especially with guns, reducing the effectiveness of shooting over time and rendering the remaining birds more difficult to eradicate. However, this has not been subjected to experimental investigation with common mynas. Aversion to shooting might be less of a problem during the breeding season when mynas are feeding young; birds returning to feed their young at the nest could be shot out of view of the mate and of most neighbouring birds. On this basis, shooting at the nest could help to eradicate remaining birds after other techniques have been successfully reduced numbers.

Trapping

A variety of traps have been used to catch mynas, some relying on the birds’ attraction to baits of various kinds ( called ‘foraging traps’ in Australia) and others including live decoy birds. In practice, baited multi-catch traps become decoy traps as soon as the first myna is caught. The mynas are caught alive, and so need to be killed after capture; non-target species can be released.

At present not enough is known to predict which traps will be most successful in a given area. Different trap designs seem to vary in efficiency in different places, including different islands within the same group (Feare, 2010a) and different habitats on the same island (Feare, unpublished). On North Island, Seychelles, commercially available multiple catch traps failed to catch mynas feeding on the island’s grassland but were successful close to the island’s organic waste site, while locally-made decoy traps, each with four catching compartments with a drop door triggered on entry, were most efficient on the grassland (Feare, unpublished). On Fregate Island, however, the same multi catch traps had been very successful on grassland and had led to the successful eradication of mynas on this island (Canning, 2011). On Denis Island, decoy traps were successful in all habitats, leading to the removal of more than 900 of the island’s 1000 or so mynas, but after that the eradication programme lapsed through lack of staff and funding, as did the attempt on North Island. On these two islands non-target birds cause serious problems, particularly with the decoy traps; Madagascar turtles doves Nesoenas picturata and common moorhens Gallinula chloropus were attracted to the bait and, when caught, their flapping inside a catching compartment was often sufficient to drop the doors of the other compartments, prohibiting the entry of mynas.

Avoidance of traps has been identified as a hindrance to trapping programmes involving multi-catch baited traps (King, 2010; Canning, 2011), although during intensive trapping it is difficult, without monitoring the behaviour of individually marked birds, to distinguish trap avoidance from population reduction. During the use of decoy traps on small islands in Seychelles, individually marked birds were similarly not available for observation but observed declines in catch rates were almost certainly due to declining populations and the negative impact of non-target catches (Feare, unpublished).

Common mynas can sometimes be trapped on the nest using nooses inside the nest or in the nest entrance. Where this has been used the number caught has been very small compared with the numbers caught by more traditional trapping away from the nest (Millet et al., 2004; Canning, 2011; Tideman et al., 2011). In view of the inaccessibility of many myna nests, trapping in the nest seems to be unlikely to make a major contribution to control or eradication. Tidemann (2010) investigated the use of large net enclosures to capture mynas in their night roosts but concluded that it was technically not feasible.

In Australia, Tidemann and colleagues (Tidemann and King, 2009; Tidemann et al., 2011) developed euthanasia systems for trapped mynas using exhaust gases (CO and CO2) and Canning (2011) adopted this system on Fregate Island, Seychelles. On many islands combustion engines have been largely replaced by electric vehicles and on Denis and North Islands, Seychelles, mynas have been killed by cervical breakage using long-nosed round-nosed pliers, which kill instantly (these pliers are not the same as ‘humane killing pliers’ which are marketed in UK by pest control suppliers and which Feare and Saavedra (pers. obs.) found in St Helena did not kill mynas instantly or humanely).

A wide variety of traps and trap designs are available from pest control distributors and others supplying the main markets around the world. In view of the variation in trap effectiveness in different places it is difficult to recommend particular models and the best ones to suit local conditions and trials are needed to select what works best. Trap availability is perhaps best investigated through local networking and using an internet search engine.

Chemical Control

The toxicant Starlicide (also called DRC1339, 3-chloro-p-toluidine hydrochloride), produced in the Unites States and in New Zealand, has been used in attempts to reduce numbers or eradicate common mynas from islands (Millet et al. 2004, Rocamora and Jean-Louis 2009, Terrestrial Resources Conservation Section 2009, Feare 2010b). Starlicide is believed to interfere with kidney function, is more toxic to birds than to mammals, and differs in toxicity among bird families, thus offering some selectivity towards highly susceptible families, including starlings (Sturnidae).

Some toxoicants which may kill mynas are also likely to kill other bird species, and there is very little known about some toxicant effects on other components of island faunas, such as reptiles, crustaceans and insects (Feare, 2010b). There is also evidence that the common myna learns to avoid toxic baits (Feare, 2010b).

Concerns over environmental safety and efficacy in population management indicate a need for more knowledge on the chemical’s use in island ecosystems. The use of toxicants on any island must be subjected to rigorous risk assessment.

Conclusion

The work of Saavedra (2010) Feare (2010a,b and unpublished) and Canning (2011) suggest that common mynas can be eradicated from islands and failures to achieve this to date have been due to inadequate funding, lack of availability of trained and dedicated staff, and lack of resolve by island owners and managers.

Control and eradication attempts also suffer from lack of knowledge of basic aspects of the biology of common mynas in their non-native ranges, especially in terms of reproductive capacity and demography and how these are affected by interventions aimed at reducing their numbers, ideally to zero (Feare 2010a).

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    Compiled by: IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG). Major updates with support from the Overseas Territories Environmental Programme (OTEP) project XOT603, a joint project with the Cayman Islands Government - Department of Environment

    Last Modified: Friday, 11 December 2009

 

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