Species group: Starlings and Mynahs
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 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.)
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
Humor with Plato
Plato, God rest his soul, was an unplanned pet. We got him from a Badjao trader from the ports of Zamboanga. The mynah had a price tag of more or less 20 bucks ($). I literally saw a business opportunity since mynah birds can go as high as 500 bucks in the bigger cities. Since we were heading for Manila...
So faith found me and my brother sharing a ship-liner cabin with a black bird. The next morning found us waking to shrill human cries of "Last table setting. Last table setting. First class passengers. Last table setting". Wonder of all wonders. My brother with his jaw hanging in astonishment proceeded interviewing the mynah.
Brother: "Anong pangalan mo?" (what is your name)
Bird: "Plato my name is"
Brother (muttering): "Ang galing ng ibon na ito ah." (This bird is smart)
Plato: "English man. English."
We realized we had in our hand a bird answering a Tagalog question in English with a touch of Yoda. If that is not bilingual, I don't know what is. Come to think of it, the trader was wearing an old battered Darth Vader t-shirt. The rest is history. I mean, who in his right mind sells a bird with this talent.
Plato would have been boring if he could not mimic human speech. Although I've often wondered if he ever understands what he says. I can remember so many funny conversations between him and Granny.
Granny: "How is our little birdy birdy?"
Plato: "Shut up old woman"
Granny: "Tumahimik ka diyan, batukan kita eh! Bastos! " (You shut up or I'll bash your head! Very Rude!)
Plato: "Pangit! Pangit! Pangit!" (Ugly! Ugly! Ugly!)
Granny: "Sinong pangit?" (Who's ugly?)
Plato: "Tingin ka sa salamin!" (look in the mirror)
Well Plato got his soft orange beak duct taped for several minutes. Do you know what he muttered when the tape was removed?
You've gotta admit there's some kind of logic here.
Plato's diet was simple: bananas, mangoes, vegetables, the occasional beetle thrown in by the kids, soft bird pellets low in iron (as advised by my vet friend).
We let Plato go out of his cage thrice a week to get some exercise. He was chased once by our Labrador and got cornered on top of a bookshelf. The lab and the mynah were literally barking at each other, a loud and low bark answered by a shrill bark. Amazing isn't it?
The last word he croaked before he left for bird heaven was: "Nevermore". He probably leaned this from my Pop who dreamed of teaching Plato the poem "The Raven" by reading it aloud.
I've always thought birds were boring pets. But Plato proved me wrong..
From Froknoy Sep 24 2013 7:15AM
An Ideal Supplement
Many people are adding highly nutritious flaxseed oil to their bird's diet. It is filled with protein, B vitamins, minerals, and omega 3 fatty acids. Many birds, such as large macaws, especially benefit from this oil if they do not receive an adequate supply of nuts in their diet. I am a strong advocate of adding flax seed oil to any birds diet. .
From KimberlySharpe 199 days ago