NOISY MINER VS INDIAN MYNAH
By Danielle Davis
Perhaps the best known native honey-eater in Eastern Australia inhabiting
disturbed forest edges and urban gardens which retain a Eucalyptus canopy
from southern Tasmania up to the Atherton Tablelands in far north Queensland.
They don’t venture far past the western side of the Great Dividing
Range leaving that to their relatives the Yellow-throated Miner.
Both male and female look the same with upper parts a motley grey and
wings slightly darker grey with yellow flecks and the under parts are
whitish. They have a bright yellow triangular patch just behind their
brown eye and their beak and legs are also yellow.
Quite gregarious they live in very territorial groups of around 6 -30
birds combined into a loose colony of up to several hundred. They will
unite to mob any predators becoming particularly noisy (hence the name)
when ganging up on snakes and goannas and are very successful at driving
other birds away.
A communal song of a 2-3 syllable teu-teu-teu to establish their territory
can be heard just before sunrise and they will continue to sing, chirp,
whistle and chatter through the day as they forage mainly amongst up
in bushes and trees through bark and leaves for insects, beetles, ants,
wasps, bees, weevils and caterpillars occasionally dropping on to the
ground. They are also nectar and fruit eaters and delight in harvesting
from many flowering and fruiting trees and shrubs.
Their breeding season is from June-December, where up to 20 metres
high in a tree and on her own, the female builds a cup like nest of
twigs and grasses softy lined with moths cocoons or wool and bound with
animal hair and cobwebs. She lays 2-4 eggs a day apart for staggered
hatching and incubates them for 15-16 days. When the chicks have emerged
from the egg up to 10 males will come and join in their feeding exceeding
up to 50 times an hour. The nestlings take about 16 days to leave the
nest and several broods may be laid in one season.
Originally introduced by humans into Melbourne from Southeast Asia
back in 1862 they quickly established themselves. In 1883 they were
taken up to Northern Queensland, ostensibly to combat insects in the
cane fields! A feral bird and now also a serious pest they are found
in most cities and towns along the east coast of Australia in some areas
in plague proportions. Their natural range is Turkestan to India, Andamans
and Sri Lanka.
Although the body & shape and also beak, eye and leg colour are
the same as our own native Noisy Miner that is where the comparison
ends. Both male and female Indian Mynahs have a chocolate brown head,
neck and throat with a green sheen, the rest of the body is mainly a
fawn colour with some white on the tips of their wings and under their
tail. Beak, back of eye and legs are yellow.
Unlike the Noisy Miner, these birds are scavengers in urban parks,
gardens and streets and will eat almost anything surviving well on garbage,
scraps, vegetable matter, other birds eggs and even eating young hatchlings
and small fledgling birds. They follow humans rather than natural vegetation
& seasons. Aggressive in their behaviour and with their numbers
growing they are taking over the nesting sites, feeding grounds and
airways attacking, displacing and sometimes killing not only our native
birds but also small mammals and bats too.
WHAT WE CAN DO
- Keep a lid on your garbage and compost bin
- Feed domestic pets inside if possible
- Ensure that poultry pens are mynah proof
- Plant native trees & flowering shrubs to attract native birds
- Call your local council to report sightings
- Obtain a mynah trap from your council
- Block holes in roofs and eaves
- Keep palms well trimmed. Avoid planting exotic species such as Cocos Palm, Slash Pine, Radiata Pine and Umbrella Tree as these are preferred Indian Mynah roosting trees.
Removing Indian Mynah birds from Rosella nesting boxes is successful
and within a few hours some Rosellas will already have settled back
in to lay their eggs!