communal display

Common Myna

The Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis), is a member of the starling family. This bird is native in Asia from Iran and Kazakhstan to Malaysia and China, and in Egypt. It has however been introduced in many other parts of the world and its distribution range is on the increase. It is also known as the Indian Myna or Talking Myna for its ability to mimic human speech. In India, it is called Lali or Lalee.


This abundant passerine is typically found in open woodland, cultivation and around habitation. The Common Myna builds a nest in hole in a tree or wall. The normal clutch is 4–6 eggs.

This 25-cm-long bird has dark brown body and wing plumage, with large white wing patches obvious in flight. The head and throat are dark grey. The bill, bare skin around the eyes and strong legs are bright yellow. The sexes are similar. Mynas mate for life.

Like most starlings, the Common Myna is omnivorous. It feeds on insects 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 walks on the ground with occasional hops.

The song includes croaks, squawks, chirps, clicks and whistles, 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. Common Mynas are popular as cage birds for their singing and "speaking" abilities.


The IUCN declared this myna as one of the only three birds among the World's 100 worst invasive species.

Common Myna (Immature) IMG 5487.jpg, West Bengal, India. ]] It has been introduced widely elsewhere, including adjacent areas in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, South Africa, Israel, North America, Australia, New Zealand and various oceanic islands, including a very prominent population in Hawaii.

Although this is an adaptable species, its population has been decreasing significantly in Singapore and Malaysia due to competition with its cousin, the introduced Javan Myna.

In Australia

In Australia, the Common Myna is an invasive pest. In a 2008 popular vote, the bird was named "The Most Important Pest/Problem" in Australia.

The common myna is found naturally throughout Southeast Asia, and was first introduced to Australia in Victoria between 1863 and 1872. 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; the reasons for its original introduction to Victoria, however, are lost to history. 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.

The bird can live and breed in a wide range of temperatures, though it thrives in hotter regions. 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 across the Great Dividing Range to the arid interior regions).

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.

Urban success

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 common starlings, house sparrows, and rock doves) is a nuisance to city buildings; its nests block gutters and drainpipes, causing water damage to building exteriors.

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 particular, the reproduction rates of native hollow-nesting parrots in the bush land of eastern Australia have been reduced by up to 80% by the common myna (which was even able to outcompete another aggressive introduced species in the area, the common starling).

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 and 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.

Response and control

The relatively recent invention of durable ultraviolet-resistant plastic netting has enabled some fruit orchards and fisheries to effectively and safely prevent all bird species from causing damage to them; however, since the common myna’s most important damage is to native bird species and urban buildings, more unorthodox methods of control have been tested. Scaring strategies, population reduction, and repellent chemicals have all been used in attempts to eliminate or drive away populations of common mynas and other urban and suburban pest birds.


Scaring devices on their own are, by and large, ineffective means of control for pest birds. Some commercial scaring devices emit bursts of high-frequency sound normally inaudible to humans, and others emit recordings of the alarm calls of the intended pest species. In both of these cases, local pest bird populations are quickly habituated to the sound of the device (though the time before habituation can be extended in the latter type of device by randomly alternating between different recordings of the alarm call). On the other hand, scaring devices may help reduce crop damage if they are used at a site where a crop is yet to ripen and the local pest birds have not yet established a habit of feeding there.

The other dominant method of scaring is shooting blank cartridges and noisemakers from shotguns, a method obviously unsuited for use in an urban environment.

Population reduction

Shooting to kill is one of the most common methods of pest bird control, but such a technique is only an option for rural landowners and farmers. Other methods of population reduction (notably poisoning and trapping) show little promise; poisoned bait tends to also poison non-target birds and mammals, and trapping is best suited to larger birds like Australian brush-turkeys and cockatoos.

Repellent chemicals

The snail and slug repellent methiocarb was tested in Australia in the 1970s as a bird repellent, but inconclusiveness of field trials and problems similar to those encountered with poisoned bait (i.e., non-target poisoning) prevented wide adoption of its use. The use of methiocarb as a bird repellent has since been discontinued due to the manufacturer failing to provide satisfactory toxicological data to renew registration.



External links

Further reading

  • Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  • Feare, Chris; Craig, Adrian (1999). Starlings and Mynas. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-7136-3961-X.
  • Grimmett, Inskipp and Inskipp, Birds of India ISBN 0-691-04910-6
  • Pell, A.S. & Tidemann, C.R. (1997) "The impact of two exotic hollow-nesting birds on two native parrots in savannah and woodland in eastern Australia", Biological Conservation, 79, 145-153. A study showing native birds being excluded from up to 80% of nesting sites in Canberra, Australia.


  • Kannan, R., and D. A. James. 2001. Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis). In The Birds of North America, No. 583 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.


  • Tunhikorn S. Ph.D. (1989). Resource partitioning of four sympatric mynas and starlings (Sturnidae) in Thailand. Oregon State University, United States -- Oregon.


  • Baker AJ & Moeed A. (1979). Evolution in the Introduced New-Zealand Populations of the Common Myna Acridotheres-Tristis Aves Sturnidae. Canadian Journal of Zoology. vol 57, no 3. p. 570-584.
  • Baker AJ & Moeed A. (1980). MORPHOMETRIC VARIATION IN INDIAN SAMPLES OF THE COMMON MYNA, ACRIDOTHERES-TRISTIS (AVES, STURNIDAE). Bijdragen Tot De Dierkunde. vol 50, no 2. p. 351-363.
  • Bharucha EK. (1989). Common Myna as a Campfollower of Lesser Whistling Teals. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. vol 86, no 3.
  • Bilgin CC. (1996). First record of the common myna (Acridotheres tristis) from Ankara, Turkey. Zoology in the Middle East. vol 13, no 0. p. 25-26.
  • Bilqees FM, Khatoon N & Haseeb MF. (2004). Neoechinorhynchotaenia sindhensis N. gen., N. sp. from the bird Acridotheres tristis of Sindh, Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Zoology. vol 36, no 3. p. 207-209.
  • Chandra S, Agarwal GP & Saxena AK. (1988). Seasonal Changes in the Population of Mallophaga on Acridotheres-Tristis. Angewandte Parasitologie. vol 29, no 4. p. 244-249.
  • Chandra S, Agarwal GP & Saxena AK. (1989). Distribution of Mallophaga on the Body of Acridotheres-Tristis Aves. Angewandte Parasitologie. vol 30, no 1. p. 39-42.
  • Chandra S, Agarwal GP, Singh SPN & Saxena AK. (1990). Seasonal Changes in a Population of Menacanthus-Eurysternus Mallophaga Amblycera on the Common Myna Acridotheres-Tristis. International Journal for Parasitology. vol 20, no 8. p. 1063-1066.
  • Chaturvedi CM & Thapliyal JP. (1979). Comparative Study of Adrenal Cycles in 3 Species of Indian Birds Athene-Brama Acridotheres-Tristis and Coturnix-Coturnix. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology. vol 17, no 10. p. 1049-1052.
  • Chauhan RB, Parasharya BM & Yadav DN. (1998). The food of nestlings of Indian Myna acridotheres tristis. In Dhindsa, M S [Editor], Rao, P S [Editor], Parasharya, B M [Editor] Birds in agricultural ecosystem 138-148, 1998. Society for Applied Ornithology (India) {a}, A. P. Agricultural University, Rajendranagar 500 030, India.
  • Choudhury A. (1998). Common myna feeding a fledgling koel. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. vol 95, no 1.
  • Crisp H & Lill A. (2006). City slickers: Habitat use and foraging in urban Common Mynas Acridotheres tristis. Corella. vol 30, no 1. p. 9-15.
  • Davidar ERC. (1991). 14. Common Myna Acridotheres-Tristis Linn. Fishing. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. vol 88, no 2.
  • Dhanda SK & Dhindsa MS. (1993). Eviction of ring dove, Streptopelia decaocto, from a nest box by common myna, Acridotheres tristis. Pavo. vol 31, no 1-2. p. 35-38.
  • Dhanda SK & Dhindsa MS. (1996). Breeding performance of Indian Myna Acridotheres tristis in nestboxes and natural sites. Ibis. vol 138, no 4. p. 788-791.
  • Dhanda SK & Dhindsa MS. (1996). Intraspecific brood parasitism in the common myna Acridotheres tristis (Linn.). Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. vol 93, no 1. p. 91-93.
  • Dhanda SK & Dhindsa MS. (1998). Breeding ecology of common myna Acridotheres tristis with special reference to the effect of season and habitat on reproductive variables. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. vol 95, no 1. p. 43-56.
  • Fitzsimons JA. (2006). Anti-predator aggression in the Common Myna Acridotheres tristis. Australian Field Ornithology vol 23, p. 202-205.
  • Fleischer RC, Williams RN & Baker AJ. (1991). Genetic Variation within and among Populations of the Common Myna Acridotheres-Tristis in Hawaii USA. Journal of Heredity. vol 82, no 3. p. 205-208.
  • Gibson AR, Baker AJ & Moeed A. (1984). Morphometric Variation in Introduced Populations of the Common Myna Acridotheres-Tristis an Application of the Jackknife to Principal Component Analysis. Systematic Zoology. vol 33, no 4. p. 408-421.
  • Greig-Smith P. (1982). Behavior of Birds Entering and Leaving Communal Roosts of Madagascar Fodies Foudia-Madagascariensis and Indian Mynahs Acridotheres-Tristis. Ibis. vol 124, no 4. p. 529-534.
  • Gupta RC & Goel P. (1994). On the roosting behaviour of Bank myna, common myna and pied myna. Geobios. vol 21, no 2. p. 93-100.
  • Hermes N. (1986). A Census of the Common Mynah Acridotheres-Tristis Along an Axis of Dispersal. Corella. vol 10, no 2. p. 55-57.
  • Homan P. (2000). Excluding the Common Myna Acridotheres tristis from artificial nest boxes using a baffle. Victorian Naturalist. vol 117, no 2.
  • Hone J. (1978). Introduction and Spread of the Common Myna Acridotheres-Tristis in New-South-Wales Australia. Emu. vol 78, no 4. p. 227-230.
  • Ishtiaq F, Beadell JS, Baker AJ, Rahmani AR, Jhala YV & Fleischer RC. (2006). Prevalence and evolutionary relationships of haematozoan parasites in native versus introduced populations of common myna Acridotheres tristis. Proceedings of the Royal Society Biological Sciences Series B. vol 273, no 1586. p. 587-594.
  • Jadhav BV & Dandawate RR. (2004). A new species of the genus Lapwingia (Singh 1952) from Acridotheres tristis at Aurangabad, India. Uttar Pradesh Journal of Zoology. vol 24, no 2. p. 209-211.
  • Kumar A, Kumar B, Arora MP, Kumar S & Tyagi R. (2004). Effect of environmental factors on annual reproductive cycle of female common myna Acridotheres tristis. Journal of Experimental Zoology India. vol 7, no 2. p. 313-318.
  • Mahabal A. (1993). Activity-time budget of Indian myna Acridotheres tristis (Linnaeus) during the breeding season. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. vol 90, no 1. p. 96-97.
  • Mahabal A. (1993). Communal display behaviour of Indian myna, Acridotheres tristis (Linnaeus). Pavo. vol 31, no 1-2. p. 45-54.
  • Mahabal A. (1997). Communal roosting in common mynas Acridotheres tristis and its functional significance. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. vol 94, no 2. p. 342-349.
  • Mahabal A, Bastawade DB & Vaidya VG. (1990). Spatial and Temporal Fluctuations in the Populations of Common Myna Acridotheres-Tristis Linnaeus in and around an Indian City. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. vol 87, no 3. p. 392-398.
  • Mahabal A & Bastawde DB. (1991). Mixed roosting associates of Indian Myna Acridotheres tristis in Pune City, India. Pavo. vol 29, no 1-2. p. 23-32.
  • Mahabal A & Vaidya VG. (1989). Diurnal Rhythms and Seasonal Changes in the Roosting Behavior of Indian Myna Acridotheres-Tristis Linnaeus. Proceedings of the Indian Academy of Sciences Animal Sciences. vol 98, no 3. p. 199-210.
  • Malhi CS. (1987). Hoarding Behavior in Common Myna Acridotheres-Tristis. Zeitschrift fuer Angewandte Zoologie. vol 74, no 2. p. 247-248.
  • Mallick B & Sarkar AK. (1982). Observation on Cadmium Damage in Ovary of Common Myna Acridotheres-Tristis. Proceedings of the Zoological Society. vol 35, no 1-2. p. 23-26.
  • Martin WK. (1996). The current and potential distribution of the common myna Acridotheres tristis in Australia. Emu. vol 96, p. 166-173.
  • Pawar SB & Shinde GB. (2003). A new species Valipora kallamensis n.sp. (Cestoda: Dilepididae) from Acridotheres tristis at Kallam, India. Uttar Pradesh Journal of Zoology. vol 23, no 2. p. 167-169.
  • Pell AS & Tidemann CR. (1997). The ecology of the Common Myna in urban nature reserves in the Australian Capital Territory. Emu. vol 97, p. 141-149.
  • Rahman MK & Husain KZ. (1988). Notes on the Breeding Record of the Common Myna Acridotheres-Tristis-Tristis Linnaeus. Bangladesh Journal of Zoology. vol 16, no 2. p. 155-158.
  • Salunkhe PS. (1999). Albino myna (Acridotheres tristis) near Vita, in Maharashtra. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. vol 96, no 3.
  • Sengupta S. (1976). Food and Feeding Ecology of the Common Myna Acridotheres-Tristis. Proceedings of the Indian National Science Academy Part B Biological Sciences. vol 42, no 6. p. 338-345.
  • Sood ML & Dang HR. (1978). Diplotriaena-Bhamoensis a Nematode Infection in Acridotheres-Tristis and Acridotheres-Ginginianus. Rivista di Parassitologia. vol 39, no 2-3. p. 113-116.
  • Srivastava R, Kumar S, Gupta N, Singh SK & Saxena AK. (2003). Path coefficient analysis of correlation between breeding cycles of the common myna Acridotheres tristis (Passeriformes: Sturnidae) and its phthirapteran ectoparasites. Folia Parasitologica. vol 50, no 4. p. 315-316.
  • Telecky TM. (1988). Multiple Parentage in the Permanently Monogamous Common Myna Acridotheres-Tristis. Pacific Science. vol 42, no 1-2. p. 133-134.
  • Toor HS & Dhindsa MS. (1980). A New Nesting Site of Common Myna Acridotheres-Tristis in the Punjab India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. vol 77, no 2. p. 329-330.
  • Uniyal DP. (2004). A note on behavioural observation of Rhesus Monkey (Macaca mulatta) and Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis). Indian Forester. vol 130, no 4. p. 469-470.

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