Myna   Sturnidae

 
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The common name of the bird is Myna. Spelled often with a "h" as Mynah. This is a bird from the Starling Family -Sturnidae. The term "Myna" is used widely for any bird that looks like Starling, irrespective whether they are from the same family or not. Mynas are fair size birds, i.e. passerines with strong feet, powerful flier and direct to their destination. Most species are gregarious and generally are an open country bird. They are in dark color and often with a tinge of brown.

Worldwide there are 114 species and in South East Asia, there are 23 species. Found naturally in south and eastern Asia. In many region, some Mynas were introduced species to these countries. The Common Myna with its habits and breeding rate is often regarded as a invasive species.

The Mynas could be divided into 3 types.

1. Jungle and Hill Mynas - as their common names imply
2. The "true" Mynas - as in White-vented Myna, Crested & Javan Myna
3. Those named as Starlings - as Vinous-breasted Starling, Asian-pied Starling etc.

Yet there is a another notable bird which has a name that sounds alike as the Myna Down Under. The Noisy Miner.

Both birds, the Common Myna and the Noisy Miner could be found in the same vicinity. The Noisy Miner Manorina melanocephala is a nectar-feeding bird indigenous to Australia whereas the Common Myna is an introduced species.  Both birds are equally matched - almost the same size, are known for their aggression. The Noisy Miner extremely territorial when it comes to feeding and the Common Myna can attack other birds to get the best nesting holes.

Out of the 23 species found in South east Asia, here is a table which I adopted as benchmark list and showing showing the Mynas and Starling sighted in Malaysia on record. Noticed that the birds listed may not match precisely what I have included in this page. I am just listing what I have seen in my own way.

Asian Glossy Starling Aplonis panayensis
Golden-crested Myna Ampeliceps coronatus
Hill Myna Gracula religiosa
Great Myna Acridotheres grandis
Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus
Jungle Myna Acridotheres fuscus
Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
Vinous-breasted Starling Sturnus burmannicus
Purple-backed Starling/Daurian Starling Sturnus sturninus
Chestnut-cheeked Starling Sturnus philippensis
White-shouldered Starling Sturnus sinensis

The topic of Myna cannot be complete without the mention of "Soft-billed" birds. No! nothing to do with soft or hooked bills that the caged birds have. Soft-billed is a loose term used by pet lovers and is synonymous with the soft diet the birds are are fed on. Irrespective of whether the birds is Frugivorous, carnivorous or Insectivorous.

The Hill Myna excel in this area for their excellent talking ability, but in general the Mynah Bird was once one of the most commonly kept softbills, but for some reason have lately become increasingly hard to find. Beside the Hill Myna who has the extraordinary ability to mimic, the rest of the Myna are no song bird. Their calls coarse but loud.

From the table above, the birds that I have featured on this page are those marked in orange color. As usual, I have used the master list from Bird Life International as a guide. Some birds included, the names of which do not appear on this list. Lastly, I am using another style of ID for the Mynas. Not by colors on the birds but more using the crest as the main diagnostic feature.

 

1. Common Myna  Acridotheres tristis

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 27 cm This is considered as trash bird as it is so commonly seen. The bird measures at  27 cm  Body color - Not uniformly but has various shades of brown Head & Crown -The head has a grayish black hood appearing almost black  Bill- bright yellow bill  Eyes - the grayish and the yellow facial skin around the eye is diagnostic Others - It has white under tail feathers and a white vent. This is confusing as there is another Myna named as White-vented.

 Distribution :-  This bird could be found in a very wide and large belt. That includes countries like Russia, Iran, the Indian Sub-continent  and South east China. For reasons I do not know yet, this is a popular bird to be chosen as introduced species. Therefore, the bird could be seen in countries around the world.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The bird needs no introduction as it can be seen in all areas in the lowlands.
Habitats & preferences:- This is a bird of the open park and grasslands. In residential areas, the birds are patronizing trees planted as shades and drop by patches of grass to forage.
 
 My personal jottings :-

The bird is a actually a welcome sign of life in the areas. Not in large flock but appearing is a well scattered manner. Only noisy when there is a dispute among themselves to be settled, I don't find the bird to be a pest. For those of you curious about Myna. This is the Myna to start with. Because! the only Myna with a yellow skin around the eye. cannot go wrong. So in the park, you could start by knowing whether the bird seen is a "common" or not. Pity that in Central Peninsula we are having less Common Mynas now when compared with Javan.

 

Record of bird's calls :-     and Videos
 

Common Myna  # 1

Common Myna  # 2

Common Myna # 3

Common Myna # 4

Common Myna  # 5

Common Myna # 6

Common Myna # 7

Common Myna # 8

Common Myna   # 9

Common Myna   # 10

Common Myna  # 11

Common Myna # 12

Common Myna  # 16

Common Myna  # 17

Common Myna # 18

Common Myna  # 19

Common Myna  # 20

Common Myna # 21

Common Myna # 22

Common Myna  # 23

Common Myna # 24

Common Myna  # 25

Common Myna  # 26

Common Myna # 27

2. Crested Myna  Acridotheres cristatellus

 

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 27 cm. The bird appears fatter than most Mynas despite of having the same overall length of 27 cm, Body color -fully black with a good amount of gloss Head & Crown -uniformly black same as the body  Bill Bill ivory white, with rosy red flesh at the base. Eyes -  Pale orange eyes. Others -  Most prominent and also its diagnostic marking would be the full short crest.

 Distribution :- This is a bird of Central and southern China, spread over to the Taiwan Island.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The bird was seen only in Penang. Perhaps only 3 birds on record when I started watching birds in 1998. Today, it is rated that bird is feral in Penang. As for its population, the frequency and numbers sighted are coming close to that of the Common Mynas. No report encountered about the bird spreading over to the mainland.
Habitats & preferences:- Like the Common Myna, this is a lowland bird of the open space. Perched in the middle storey and foraging on the ground.
 
 My personal jottings :-

This bird is again cannot be mistaken. The thick bushy crest above the beak. Perhaps difficult for beginners as to the size of the crest, big, bigger or larger! Look properly. It is unusually chunkier and thick, while the rest of the Mynas are having a ceremonious tuft. Though not a common bird, my feeling for this bird is somewhat different. It is just another "common" Myna while I saw them in Penang. It is still a rare bird in Malaysia and I should tap on the opportunity to have more pictures of them taken. For the seasoned bird watcher, The Crested Myna has darker color and heavy tuft, this bird is also appears more heavily built.

 

Record of bird's calls :-    and Videos
 

Crested Myna  # 1

Crested Myna  # 2

Crested Myna  # 3

Crested Myna  # 4

Crested Myna   # 5

Crested Myna  # 6

Crested Myna  # 7

Crested Myna  # 8

Crested Myna  # 9

Crested Myna  # 10

Crested Myna   # 11

Crested Myna  # 12

Crested Myna   # 16

Crested Myna   # 17

Crested Myna  # 18

Crested Myna  # 19

Crested Myna  # 20

Crested Myna  # 21

Crested Myna   # 22

Crested Myna  # 23

Crested Myna  # 24

Crested Myna  # 25

Crested Myna   # 26

Crested Myna  # 27

3. Hill Myna  Gracula religiosa

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 34 cm. Those Hill Mynas seen in Peninsula is the larger sub-species Gracula r.r. It size is 34 cm, when compared to those seen further north e.g. in Thailand which is only 31 cm. Body color - The bird has a shinning black body all round. Head & Crown -is also uniformly black. Bill- also distinctive is the deep orange bill usually ending up with a yellow tip and is thicker than other sub-species. Eyes -dark grey with a surrounding patch.  Others - glossy black all round , with connected yellow wattles and ear coverts, and nape. Prominent white wing patch. Those wattles on the head are separate pieces but touching one another.

 Distribution :- Traced to the foothill areas of Himalayas in North eastern India, Sri Langka  and the Greater Sundas.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The bird is often heard in places of deep jungle and on the other extreme - at forest edge with tiny settlements. It is quite often to hear them calling. Very obvious, the single loud call that echoes through the forest area. But catching a glimpse of the bird, normally birds, may not be an easy task as they are in canopy level and on trees some distances away. The bird well sort after is almost available throughout the whole Peninsula.
Habitats & preferences:- This is a bird of the lowland forest and prefers bare trunks and branches at the canopy level. Then in places with human inhabitants, secondary forest where there are few tall trees. Here, in disturbed forest, the "canopy level" may also be low as 12-15 meters high.
 
 My personal jottings :-

This bird needs no further explanation, the orange patches on the side and behind its head, plus the intermittent loud calls. This is a well sort after bird by those who keep birds. Hill Myna is the top choice. Where ever the bird is detected, I am sure that poachers as waiting in line to have them trapped. These days, the bird is only heard in deep forest of very remote forest like those in Pahang.

 

Record of bird's calls :-    and Videos
 

Hill Myna  # 1

Hill Myna  # 2

Hill Myna # 3

Hill Myna # 4

Hill Myna  # 5

Hill Myna # 6

Hill Myna  # 7

Hill Myna # 8

Hill Myna  # 9

Hill Myna   # 10

Hill Myna  # 11

Hill Myna # 12

Hill Myna  # 16

Hill Myna # 17

Hill Myna # 18

Hill Myna  # 19

Hill Myna # 20

Hill Myna # 21

Hill Myna  # 22

Hill Myna  # 23

Hill Myna # 24

Hill Myna # 25

Hill Myna  # 26

Hill Myna# 27

 

4. Jungle Myna Acridotheres fuscus

 Size & diagnostic markings:-25 Cm. This is an average size Myna with a slim body shape at 25 cm. Body color - The body is uniformly in dark slaty black with contrasting white under tailed covert. Head & Crown - the head is blackish which in contrast with the grey body Bill - Definitely orange with the special feature of the dark blue at its base.   Eyes - Quite common in yellow Others - I find that the short crest is diagnostic when it get compared with the White-vented Myna. The Jungle Myna which is less seen shares much similarity with the invading Javan Myna. It is the blue tinge at the beak that makes out the differences between the 2 birds.

 Distribution :-  The Jungle Myna is to traced to places like North Pakistan, India and a couple of other Himalayan countries.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- This species is almost wipe out of existence since the Javan Myna started moving north, coming in from Singapore. Up to the central part of Peninsula Malaysia, hardly able to see any bird at all. The Jungle is seen in the northern states like Perak and beyond. Here from the central state of Selangor southwards, the bird is integrated with the Javan Mynas.
Habitats & preferences:- This is a bird of the lowlands. An open country bird that prefers grasslands especially those with streams or pond nearby. Unlike other Mynas, the Jungle Myna is less of a bird to visit the public park areas..
 
 My personal jottings :-

 I live in the west coast and the central portion of Peninsula Malaysia. In my outings within the state of Selangor, the Mynas that I encountered, about two third of which are Javan Mynas and remaining third Common Mynas. There are a few colonies of White-vented in my housing estate. Hence spending time to learn about Jungle Myna is out of the question as I don't get to meet up with them. In my outings to the northern states, birds other than Mynas have a higher priority on my list. Again no time was devoted to study the pattern of Mynas distribution. After finishing this page, I guess its time for priority to shifting! My hunt for this Forest Myna is still on-going.

 

Record of bird's calls :-    and Videos
 

I do not have that many pictures of the Jungle Mynas, perhaps there is no need to show them as they look so much alike the Javan Myna. In its place this series of 3 pictures is my best effort in trying to bring out the current situation with the existence of Jungle Myna in Malaysia.

1 Jungle Myna

2 Hybrid Javan Myna

3 Javan Myna

The first picture showing a Jungle Myna with its orange beak. Of course, colors could be dramatic as pictures taken under varying condition may influence the intensity of tone. The main point wad to show the diferences in tone on the beak. Next most crucial point would be the dark blue patch on the beak of the Jungle Myna and the neat clean bill of the Javan. Lastly in the centre picture some beaks with contamination. My personal opinion, could this be n indication of cross breeding and also an explanation how the Jungle Mynas are seen so much less in intensity?

5. Javan Myna  Acridotheres javanicus

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 25 Cm. Mentioned earlier that the Javan Myna shares many similar features with the Jungle Myna, here again shown by its size of 25 cm. Body color -The body is also uniformly in dark slaty black with contrasting white under tailed covert.  Head & Crown - dark blackish crown with ear convert of same tone. Bill- all yellow in color Eyes - yellow  Others - The juveniles are more brown with little or no head crest.

 Distribution :-  This bird is a resident in Java and Bali. Introduced into the island of Sumatra. Came over to Peninsula by way of the Rhio island via Singapore.
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The bird is now predominant from the centre part of west peninsula and southwards.
Habitats & preferences:- The bird appear in great numbers at the coastal areas and rice fields. Open fields and mangrove forest. Now it is also seen i good numbers in public parks.
 
 My personal jottings :-

This bird has a tuft alright. A short one but fairly thick. The other Mynas too are having tuft but not the same thickness and length. In my quick analyze of the bird in the field, important to me would be the absence of the yellow face skin which the Common Myna would have. Next would be the length of the tuft above the beak, the White-vented has sparse but rather lengthy tuft. The last to look for would be the blue shade on the lower beak which the Forest Myna would have. Take time to have a deep impression on the 2 type of crests, then you can become expert of Malaysian Mynas. No way of not seeing the birds as they are every where in my garden.

 

Record of bird's calls :-    and Videos
 

Javan Myna  # 1

Javan Myna # 2

Javan Myna # 3

Javan Myna # 4

Javan Myna  # 5

Javan Myna # 6

Javan Myna  # 7

Javan Myna # 8

Javan Myna  # 9

Javan Myna # 10

Javan Myna  # 11

Javan Myna # 12

Javan Myna  # 16

Javan Myna  # 17

Javan Myna # 18

Javan Myna  # 19

Javan Myna  # 20

Javan Myna# 21

Javan Myna  # 22

Javan Myna  # 23

Javan Myna # 24

Javan Myna  # 25

Javan Myna  # 26

Javan Myna # 27

 
 

6. White-vented Myna  Acridotheres grandis

 Size & diagnostic markings:- 27 Cm. Not only the measurement are larger in fact the White-vented Myna looks bulky when compared to that regular slim looks that most Mynas would have.  Body color - again the same description of "uniform slaty black plumage with white under tail covert".  Head & Crown -Head uniformly black as the body color Bill- bill is yellow  Eyes - reddish brown  [see main pix] Others - I think most crucial and diagnostic is the long floppy tufted crest.

 Distribution :- Resident NE India, SE Bangladesh, and South western China
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- Uncommon resident in Malaysia and feral in Kuala Lumpur. I have not ascertain this point but seeing the bird quite often in my housing areas and many parts of the states in central Peninsula.
Habitats & preferences:- From the little that I know, this is a bird of the Open field and Public park. In other countries, the bird is a lowland bird which prefers cultivated area and rice fields. Special mention about the bird frequenting urban areas as well. So far my sightings were that of the birds in urban areas.
 
 My personal jottings :-

Notice the crest on these birds. Its longer and patterned. The sub-adult had short tuft and also sparse. Compared with the Common Myna, this is a very noisy birds with frequent calls particularly in the morning hours. For this species of Myna, I find that it is much easier to indentify the birds by having a look at its crest rather than using the color of the body. The birds that are in my area are in small colonies but when alone, they are frequently seen in pairs. next point would be their routine call. Their calls is rather ritual and systematic though I cannot understand the purpose of the lone bird making the calls for extended minutes. The Common Myna makes much less calls. In odd circumstances, Common Mynas would generate attention through aggressive interactive calls during a group gatherings to settle domestic dispute. The bird makes it nesting place in holes meant for drainage in retaining walls.

 

Record of bird's calls :-    and Videos
 

White-vented Myna  # 1

White-vented Myna  # 2

White-vented Myna # 3

White-vented Myna # 4

White-vented Myna  # 5

White-vented Myna # 6

White-vented Myna  # 7

White-vented Myna # 8

White-vented Myna   # 9

White-vented Myna   # 10

White-vented Myna  # 11

White-vented Myna # 12

White-vented Myna  # 16

White-vented Myna  # 17

White-vented Myna # 18

White-vented Myna  # 19

White-vented Myna  # 20

White-vented Myna # 21

White-vented Myna  # 22

White-vented Myna  # 23

White-vented Myna # 24

White-vented Myna  # 25

White-vented Myna  # 26

White-vented Myna # 27

 

 

This is an interesting page, where Mynas are known as Starlings and coming from the family of Starlings. I had the group sorted out, back in the order that I under stood. i.e. This page catering exclusively for Mynas . The few Starlings, I have opened a new page opened for them. The Mynas though very common and seen the whole day around our house is really a topic of neglect. Within reach most of the time, I have 3 species, the Common, Javan and the White-vented regularly. We should be interested in them, capitalize on the fact that they are readily available and displaying the habits for us to record. That would make the hobby of birding interesting

 I am  progressively learning about these birds as I write these pages, and hope to expand the page.