The trouble with Indian Mynas
10th February 2021
By Nikolas Dart
Australia is home to many unique bird species, but thanks largely to introduced pests, fifty avian species here are threatened, and half of those are endangered or worse. Smart and aggressive, Indian Mynas displace locals unaccustomed to such fierce competition for a home Known as the cane toads of the sky, Indian Mynas were introduced to control agricultural pests in the 1800’s. They now inhabit much of Australia east of the Great Dividing Range, and only continue to spread. Their native environment is open woodland with little ground cover, making them well suited to urban environments where buildings take the place of trees. Indian Mynas breed quickly, laying up to six eggs in a clutch and up to three clutches between October and March.
Indian Mynas compete with native mammals and birds for nest hollows and kill chicks and destroy the eggs of other birds to secure accommodation. Thanks to their aggression and intelligence, they overwhelmingly get the better of these contests. Mynas nesting in roofs contribute to dermatitis, asthma and allergic reactions through spreading of mites.
Indian Mynas are not officially a Victorian pest species, likely due to their limited agricultural impact. If declared as such, landowners would be legally required to “take all reasonable steps to prevent the spread of, and as far as possible eradicate” them. If enforced, this may greatly reduce their impact.
What to do about them?
Yards can be made less inviting for Indian Mynas through replacing open areas with native trees and shrubs. Aside from tree hollows, the birds also nest in gaps in roofs and eaves, so block these but take care not to trap possums or other native animals. Indian Mynas build nests from sticks and lay distinctive turquoise eggs, usually two to five in number. Monitor any nest boxes for such eggs and dispose of them swiftly.
Feed pets inside, or failing that, clean up lose pet food after your pet has eaten. Indian Mynas are particularly attracted to red cat and dog biscuits. Clear food scraps after eating outdoors, and feed chickens pellets, not scraps, as Indian Mynas do not eat pellets. Indian Mynas can be captured using non-lethal, twochambered Peegee traps, which area made from mesh, and can be constructed with everyday materials or ordered online, through the Yarra Indian Myna Action Group: www.yimag.org.au These traps are to be baited with red pet biscuits and supplied with food and water changed every few days. For reasons unknown, the biscuits don’t attract Mynas when wet, so must be replaced after rain. If a native bird is caught, it can simply be released unharmed.
Traps should be placed in open areas, or where Indian Mynas have been seen feeding. To prevent Mynas getting suspicious, people should only approach the traps when the birds are not around.
To minimise animal cruelty, Indian Mynas should not be transported in captivity but instead killed locally. This is the most difficult part of dealing with the birds, as few people are willing to do this. The most humane way of euthanising Indian Mynas is cervical dislocation (breaking the neck), but this should not be undertaken without training. Disposing of Mynas humanely is not easy, and for most requires coordination between neighbours and local groups such as councils, animal welfare organisations and veterinarians.
FoMC may have a Myna cage available for members only – email: firstname.lastname@example.org