Animal stories: Myans
Mynas are common birds mostly seen in towns and cities of central and southern Asia. They are a brown bird with a bright yellow bill and a black head. They have a yellow bare skin around their eyes and legs are yellow too. Their overall body is chocolate-brown but patches under the tail, tip of upper tail and wing are white.
Common mynas are about 25 cm in length. They walk on the ground with occasional hops. These birds often fluff their feathers and bob their head while singing. Their song includes croaks, squawks, chirps, clicks and whistles. They are popular as pets for their singing and ‘speaking’ abilities. They have the ability to mimic, including human speech. The name myna comes from the Hindi word Maina.
Mynas eat insects, fruits, vegetables, almost anything they get. They even eat fledgling sparrows. Their favourite food includes insects, especially grasshoppers. So mynas are also named as ‘grasshopper hunters’.
In southern Asia, mynas are considered helpful to farmers as they follow the plough to feed on the insects and grubs turned up with the soil. But their fruit-eating habits make them a pest of fruit trees.
Mynas are mostly found near cultivation, woodlands, towns, parks and human habitations. These are the Asian birds that have been introduced widely elsewhere, including Hawaii, North America, Australia, New Zealand and the UAE. They are often found in pairs or larger flocks. In the evening, several thousand of mynas gather in roof voids, bridges, large trees and other similar areas. The noise from these large groups can be deafening.
Mynas build their nest in tree hollows, building cavities and in the walls and ceilings of buildings. Nests are quite messy built with leaves, grasses, feathers and other common materials.
Violent battles often erupt between mynas for nesting sites. Each partner grapples with its opposite number and contestants drop to
the ground secured in each other’s claws. Bills are jabbed ruthlessly at the opponent. Finally, the defeated couple leaves to search for another site.
Breeding season for mynas are usually from
October to March. Females lay 2-5 blue-green eggs. The eggs have about 13 days incubation period. Parents take care and feed their young ones for about three weeks. Mynas have the
life span of around 12 years or more.