Species group: Starlings and Mynahs
Other common names: Common Myna
Scientific name: Acridotheres tristis
The small but aggressive Common Mynah is a known invasive species that has colonized areas as diverse as Madagascar, Australia, and many more. Before you attempt to hold this bird, check with your local wildlife authorities to be sure that it's legal to keep in your region. Its territorial boldness often allows it to seize and hold natural nest cavities that would otherwise be available for native birds.
This talented species can learn how to speak if exposed to human language at a very early age, although many authorities believe it isn't quite as gifted as the Indian Hill Mynah. Be warned: An adult bird probably can't learn to speak or to sing songs it never heard in its youth.
Like other mynahs, captive Common Mynahs may be susceptible to iron storage disease, forcing you to take exceptional care with its diet to help prolong its life.
A smallish blackish-brown mynah with flashing white wing patches. The bare bright yellow skin around its eyes draws attention to its alert face.
110 - 138 grams (4 - 5 oz.)
23 - 26 centimeters (9 - 10 in.)
10 - 15 years
Behavior / temperament:
Common Mynahs tend to be fearless and highly territorial birds. They have been reported to kill other birds in mixed-species aviaries, especially in the breeding season. They must be trained very early if you expect them to learn how to speak.
The Common Mynah is an omnivore with 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 could 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.
Common Mynahs must consume a specialized low-iron softbill diet to reduce their chances of developing iron-storage disease.. 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. Wild mynahs may consume a fig 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 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
immediate family, constant companionship, remarkable pet
strict lowiron diet, genetic predisposition, iron storage disease, harrowing loud sound
swearing funny, swear words, early training, noisy rendition, starling family
Pollie, the talking mynah.
I have kept many bird species over the years, but my all-time favorite, even more so than all the budgerigars named Bob, I have had, must be Pollie, a mynah that I raised from the moment it hatched.
Pollie's parents were two mynahs that lived under the eaves of my barn, which was a little strange, since mynahs are known to build their nests in the most impossible places, but not these two- they built a nest where anybody could reach up and touch it. Nonetheless, these two birds must raised a few dozen chicks in the time they lived on my property, until one day when they disappeared- never to return.
A few days after their departure, I checked the nest for no particular reason I can remember, and it was then that I found the egg, which instead of discarding, I placed in an incubator that I use for my zebra finches to see what might happen, and as luck would have it, the egg hatched after three days- and there was Pollie. Of course, she was not named Pollie on the spot; that came later, but my main concern was not to let the baby bird die- which thinking back on it, was easier said than done. After all, I have hand-reared hundreds of little zebra finches, so why not a mynah? If only I knew what I was letting myself in for!
My next door neighbor but one, is a vet, and strongly advised against the attempt to raise a mynah by hand, but added that if there was no other way, I might try baby cereal mixed with distilled water. So, off to the supermarket, but within minutes of the first feeding of cereal on the tip of a toothpick, the little bird developed severe diarrhea, so off I went to my friend the vet. This time he suggested I stop feeding the bird altogether and let nature take its course, but he knew I would not do that, so he kept the bird in his clinic overnight- for "observation".
However, the next morning, the little bird was still alive (against all expectations), so I tried feeding it again, but with a different brand of cereal, which, again against all expectations, worked. There was no more diarrhea, but as the hours and days went by, the little bird demanded more and more food, until I had to feed it at least three times every hour. Having never had children of my own, I never quite understood why parents of new born babies complained of lack of sleep, but my experience with Pollie as a fledgling soon convinced me of the validity of their complaints.
After three weeks or so, I was ragged from exhaustion, but just as I was ready to donate my baby to a local rescue organization, I decided to see if it would eat on its own, and to my astonishment, it gulped down a small earthworm I dug out from a nearby potted plant. My battle was won. From that day, Pollie became a constant companion: where ever I went, I took her along and on the way I caught small crickets, dug up earthworms, and snared small grasshoppers, none of which could satiate her, although the grew at a rapid pace.
Of course, up to that moment she had never been in a cage, and I just could not bring myself to put her in one. So, the result was that Pollie, as she had become known (for reasons that are still not clear), had the run of the house. At first, it was something of a problem to keep her off tables and counter tops, but my friend the vet suggested I nail beer bottle tops along the top edges of the doors, and mynahs being collectors of shiny baubles, Pollie took up residence on the top edge of the kitchen door. The cats of course, at first took a measure of offense at Pollie's presence, but being pampered, and slightly lazy, they soon let her be, and up to the day she died, Pollie had three excellent companions in the cats; they even allowed her to eat with them from their dishes- at the same time.
Pollie's story is too long to fully recount here, but suffice to say she learned to talk, mimic the telphone, imitate the cats, and taunt the doorbell. In fact, it was sometimes impossible to tell if the cats were calling me, or if there was really somebody at the door, and at times it would drive me crazy getting the door- and not finding anybody. Same with the telephone; it would ring in the middle of the night- only it was not the phone, it was Pollie playing tricks on me.
Pollie became a constant in my life; she was always there. At time she would drive me crazy, but then she would always amuse me by playing roll-over on the carpet. She could keep this up for hours; she would play dead, and as soon as either myself or a cat would come to investigate, she would start rolling over, and over, and over until she hit something- then she would just roll over in another direction until she hit something else again. Or she would ride on my shoulder, and then refuse to get off again- any attempt to dislodge her would fetch me sharp nip, so I learned to ignore her until she fell asleep on my shoulder, which she invariably did after a while.
Then one day, Pollie would not come down from her door, and thinking she was sulking about something again, I left her to her own devices for the morning. Returning at lunch time, I found her lying on the floor, but that time she would not play rollover- she was dead. My friend the vet guessed that she caught a cold that had developed into pneumonia, which members of the starling family are apparently particularly susceptible to, but whatever the actual cause of her death, she is still sorely missed.
Would I recommend mynah birds as pets? Probably not- and especially not for people who cannot spend suffient time with the bird. Feeding a mynah is easy- they eat just about anything, but they are extremely intelligent, and without suitable stimulation, a mynah could very easily become destructive. If you cannot provide constant companionship and attention, you might find that you cannot control the bird, which would be a shame because birds as intelligent and sociable as mynahs should never be caged.
In my admittedly biased opinion, If you cannot control a mynah outside of a cage, you will break its spirit inside a cage. For this reason then, I would not recommend a mynah bird as a pet unless you are prepared to treat it as a member of the immediate family, and allow it to live freely outside of a cage..
From reinier1 Apr 22 2015 6:55AM
Flippie was a remarkable pet and was very vocal
I have had the questionable pleasure of hand rearing five birds in my life: an Indian Mynah (Common Mynah), two Cape Canaries, a Budgie and a House Sparrow (in South Africa we call them "Engelse Dakmossies" - translatated as "English Roof Sparrows" but the proper English translation is merely "English Sparrow").
Flippie fell from her nest that was located in the roof of our house. Usually a Mynah nest is very secure, so I couldn't imagine what had caused her to fall.
I was in the garden picking flowers when I heard a sound like a soft thud. I looked in the direction from where the noise came, and saw this little pink and black thing on the ground right next to the house. Fortunately it fell into a newly prepared flower bed, and not on one of the concrete patches.
I walked up to it, and the first thing I saw was an open beak. It barely had any feathers, but was nonetheless trying to defend itself? Or perhaps it was asking for food? I wasn't sure, and decided to rescue it!
I fetched a piece of cloth from the bathroom, and carefully picked it up... and then it made a soft little squeaky noise and evoked the maternal instinct in me...
I took it to my dad, and we took it to the family vet, who suggested that we let nature take its cause, since it wasn't likely to survive without its mother. And of course I bluntly refused to just let it die! The vet told us that it would take a lot of commitment to raise it by hand, and recommended that we feed it ProNutro mixed with warm distilled water and mashed boiled egg yolk... and the pajama drills began. Fortunately my college summer vacation had just started...
If anyone ever thought that nursing a new born baby or a new born puppy involves a lot of work, try a baby bird... babies need to be fed once every four hours... puppies once every two hours... this baby Mynah demanded food about three to four times an hour! My mom offered to take turns with me.
Quite often when a baby bird is hand reared, it develops diarrhea, but fortunately the mixture recommended by the vet was great, and the bird survived.
I am not quite sure where the name "Flippie" came from, but the bird became Flippie. "Flippie" is an abbreviated form of "Filip" (spelled "Philip" in English), and it came sort of natural because we thought the bird was a male... so the female Mynah got stuck with a male name, and the name stuck for the rest of her life.
We kept feeding her the ProNutro mixture for about six weeks, until someone told us that Mynahs need animal protein as well. My dad got a supply of earth worms from an angling supply shop, and replaced the ProNutro by a seed mixture for wild birds... the transition from ProNutro to the "adult" diet went smoothly. In fact, Flippie began hunting insects as well. She did, however, insist on having her boiled egg yolk on a daily basis, and we obliged.
She was never kept in a cage since we believed that tamed wild birds were still wild birds and do not belong in cages. She woke us each morning with her beautiful song. The morning song of a Mynah is really the most beautiful birdsong I've ever heard. Many breeds of bird sing beautifully, but in my opinion the Mynah's song rivals even that of the Nightingale. But that's just my opinion, and I'm sure that many will differ from me. We found out that Mynahs can mimic sound when my dad answered the phone one day and it "kept on ringing"! :) Before Flippie I was seriously under the impression that only Crows and Parrot type birds can do that.
She began repeating everything we said, and among others, also mimicked the door bell, the telephone, our laughing and the cat's mewing. Mynahs seem to be extremely talented in this regard. We taught her some tricks as well, such as stepping from stick to stick, dancing to music and playing dead. She became a member of the family, rather than a pet.
One day we came across her sitting on an egg that she had laid, and realized only then that she was a female. She began laying eggs more frequently. We consulted the vet about what to do about this, and according to him there was not much that we could do except discarding them. Letting her keep the eggs would have caused her to keep sitting on them trying to hatch them, and causing depression because obviously they would not hatch at all. So we kept discarding the eggs as rapidly as they were appearing. We also supplemented her diet with a calcium preparation that we got from the vet.
Exactly five years after I found her that day, I noticed one morning that she was battling to breath. My dad took her to the vet immediately; he kept her at the animal hospital for observation. She never returned, and three days later she died.
We requested an autopsy, and it was discovered that she fell prey to something called Iron Storage Disease. Apparently some bird breeds do suffer from this disease, and Mynahs are particularly susceptible. In a nutshell it means that they retain within their main organs all the iron that is absorbed from their diets. It turned out that the daily egg yolk that I was feeding her eventually contributed to her death because of the high iron content in egg yolk. The difficult breathing was the result of damage caused to her lungs by the over storage of iron. All her vital organs were saturated with an excess of iron.
Flippie was a remarkable pet, and her mimicking has provided lots of fun and enjoyment to our family. She has been sorely missed for a long time, and I still think of her with tenderness. Like each of my other pets that has passed on, she still has her own special place in my heart.
Will I recommend a Common Mynah as a pet? Well, I have enjoyed having Flippie as a pet... but not everybody has the time to spend with a Mynah. They require lots of time, effort and dedication, and if you do not have that, then rather pass the opportunity, and get another pet. Budgies are perfect to have as a pet that can be kept in a cage, but Mynahs will lose their character and spirit if kept captive that way.
Finally, a warning: in many countries Mynahs are seen as invaders, and are being culled mercilessly. For this very reason it may be illegal for you to keep one as a pet, so first contact the particular authorities in your country to find out what the situation is regarding Mynahs. In my country, fortunately, keeping Mynahs as pets is not illegal yet, but they have recently been declared as "undesirable" because they contend for the same resources as indigenous birds and are "ferocious invaders that sometimes even attack humans"... I do not believe that last bit for one moment... sometimes humans can be so melodramatic about things. I was never "attacked" by my Flippie... or by any other Mynah (or group of Mynahs) for that matter....
From Antleroux Jun 4 2015 5:07PM
Not a First Bird
I've worked with a lot of birds. Blacky was one of the most challenging. I never did come to trust the bird with other people. The Mynah are smart and pick up tricks if you can get them to focus; I found Blacky to be easily distracted. The bird swore like a sailor, and the owners were hoping I could break the habit, but I told them their best bet was to resell the bird to someone who would find the swearing funny. Eventually they did. Early training is so important with these birds. Either buy a young bird, or a fairly young one that's received early training. Not a good first bird..
From BobHaynes Dec 4 2014 11:51PM