Common Hill Mynah

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Is the Common Hill Mynah right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Myna Bird; Mynah Bird; Greater India Hill Mynah (G. r. intermedia); Java Hill Mynah (G. r. religiosa); Andaman Hill Myna (G. r. andamanensis); Great Nicobar Hill Myna (G. r. halibrecta)

Scientific name: Gracula religiosa

The basics:
The Hill Mynah, particularly the Greater India Hill Mynah, was once the most popular soft-billed bird in captivity, thanks to its ability to speak in a clear, human-sounding voice. Unfortunately, its popularity as a pet is falling, thanks to the one-two punch of too few captive breeders and its susceptibility to iron storage disease. The Hill Mynah is classed as an exotic songbird because of its specialized voice box, and it can learn to sing as well as to speak. Be aware that you must expose the bird to the voice lessons while it's young. An adult bird probably can't learn to speak or sing songs it never heard in its youth.

The Common Hill Mynah (Gracula religiosa), is now considered to have seven or eight subspecies although some people have suggested as many as 12. In the 20th century, the Greater India Hill Mynah (G. r. intermedia) and the Java Hill Mynah (G. r. religiosa) were the most frequently seen subspecies in captivity in the United States.This species is widely distributed throughout Asia, including the Indian subcontinent, China, Southeast Asia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and a number of other island chains. They are birds of the moist forests that like to follow the fruiting of their favorite food trees, and they can be found in both foothill and mountainous habitats.

Wild Hill Mynahs haven't been legally imported into the United States for at least two decades, but they remain hugely popular in their Asian homelands, and they have been under assault by over-collecting for the pet trade.

An instantly recognizable chunky mynah with glossy black plumage, bright orange bill, and peculiar-looking yellow wattles.

300 - 400 grams (10.6 - 14 oz.)

Average size:
21 - 40 centimeters (8.3 - 15.7 in.)

10 - 20 years

Behavior / temperament:
India Hill Mynahs are capable of a very loud whistle, and almost everyone suggests that you never wolf whistle in the bird's hearing, because they could pick up the sound and repeat it over and over. Many people suggest that you do not teach the birds to whistle or sing at all, because they may prefer these musical sounds to learning to speak. Instead, if you want to help your mynah develop its highest talking potential, start as early possible. Give regular voice lessons, bearing in mind that several short lessons each day is better than one long overwhelming session, since birds have short attention spans. The person in the home with the clearest speaking voice should give the lessons. You can also back up the lessons by playing recordings.

We all know parrots that won't speak to strangers. The India Hill Mynah doesn't suffer from shyness, and they are noted for being willing to speak freely in front of new people. However, do not allow strangers to grab at the bird or do anything else to cause it to lose its confidence. Do not expect to be able to teach an older mynah to speak if it isn't speaking already. They have to hear a sound early in their development, or they will never be able to produce it themselves.

Like all frugivores, the Hill Mynah has loose, squirtable droppings that create a real mess if you don't set up an easy-to-clean flight or aviary. These birds exercise by leaping from perch to perch or by flying, and it is cruel to confine them to a too-small cage. A minimum size for a single pet would be 24”w x 24”d x 24”h with no more than 1” bar spacing, but it's really only acceptable if you can allow your bird lots of time out of the cage. You need a den or screened porch or similar location with a cleanable floor. A longer flight in a central location, such as an easily cleaned family or rec room with quarry tile floors, would be ideal. These intelligent birds need to be at the center of family life, where they can hear and learn, especially when they're younger.

You must take exceptional care with your Hill Mynah's diet, because these birds are susceptible to iron storage disease, which may be linked to diet or at least exacerbated by the wrong diet. Most people recommend a diet that includes pellets and mixed fresh fruit salad with a smaller amount of vegetables and greens in the mix. The pellets must be a low iron specialty pellet intended specifically for mynahs, not dog biscuits or pellets intended for parrots, which may include harmful amounts of iron. Since vitamin C may increase the absorption of iron, you should also avoid feeding citrus fruit such as oranges, tangerines, or lemons. Live food such as mealworms should be a treat offered rarely.

Iron storage disease doesn't seem to occur in the wild, even though many captive birds seem to have a genetic predisposition. It appears that wild Hill Mynahs frequently eat a fig that is naturally high in tannin, a chemical that interferes with the absorption of iron. As it happens, good old-fashioned black or orange pekoe tea – not any fancy herbal tea – is also high in tannin. Therefore, some zoos and breeders have experimented with the use of tea in the drinking water to reduce softbilled bird's ability to absorb harmful amounts of iron. In one experiment, the keepers added just enough tea to tint the drinking water a faint shade of brown. The water with tea is offered for one month, and then the pure water is offered for another month, and so on. The bath water is offered separately, in a shallow dish for splashing. When you select your mynah, it is imperative to talk to the breeder and to a good avian vet about the very latest research into the proper diet for your pet.

Written by Elaine Radford


sociable bird, bright yellow wattle, favorite phrase, fun guy


average bird keeper, extremely loud cuckoo, large enough cage, droppings


soft bird pellets

Helpful Common Hill Mynah Review

Common Hill Mynah

From Froknoy Sep 24 2013 7:15AM


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