Javan Myna chick: 2. Care and development

on 13th March 2008

The Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) that was passed on to me by Lin Yangchen on 21st February 2008 spent a quiet night in its cardboard box. It made soft chirping sounds when I opened the cover of the box the next morning.


Initially widening its gape reluctantly, it did so without persuasion as it was hungry. It was fed mashed bread in water and pieces of banana. Small lumps needed to be directed into the gape before the chick swallowed them. Pieces of mashed fish were also given. It made minimum sound when fed.

As it developed, the chick was more responsive, making more sounds and opening its bill when food was offered (left). It began to grab at the food offered when placed in the centre of the gape, rather than passively allowing the food to drop in.

Usually, it accepted two to three offerings of food at a time, after which it will not accept more. It needs to be fed regularly and often.

As it grew, it made more sounds and moved about inside the box. It also responded when I approached, making chirping sounds, asking to be fed.


Four days after rescue (X+4, X=21st February), the chick began to stand upright and hopped around a bit when places on the grassy ground. It was also seen preening its feathers along the sides of the belly.

The colour differential began to develop. The juvenal feathers around the nape became darker grey than those around the flanks (right). The wings, other than those feathers showing white, were distinctly black.

On the morning of day X+5, the chick began to preen its wing feathers and scratched its head. It was also seen stretching its wings as well as flapping them.


This was the first time I noticed how it slept. Supporting itself on its tarsi and rump, it placed its head on one side of its shoulder, raised its lower eyelids to close the eyes and then went to sleep (right bottom). It also slept by resting its entire body on the ground, the head similarly touching the ground and wings slightly unfolded (right). The legs were still not totally strong enough for the bird to stand most of the time.

On day X+6, the chick made louder noises in the morning from inside the box, obviously begging for food. It also flapped its wings vigorously. Unlike previously when anything that was placed into the throat was swallowed, this time the food offered, even when placed inside the throat, was first subjected to a vigorous shake of the head resulting in most being flicked away.

On day X+7, the chick was standing more, even hopping about more. With time the legs got stronger and it was able to stand most of the time. The image below (left), showing the chick supporting itself on its pair of tarsi, was taken on day X+5. That on the right, taken on day X+11, shows it standing upright.


The bird had the habit of turning around to defecate. This happened after taking a few mouthfuls of food. It would turn around, its back facing me, and defecate. Initially puzzled, I later realised that this is what it will do inside the nest.

The chick would be fed from outside the nest and the chick needs to turn around to force its faecal matters from its vent out of the nest. After all, it is not wise to pollute the nest as this will attract predators.

YC Wee
March 2008

If you like this post please tap on the Like button at the left bottom of page. Any views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the authors/contributors, and are not endorsed by the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM, NUS) or its affiliated institutions. Readers are encouraged to use their discretion before making any decisions or judgements based on the information presented.

YC Wee

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

Other posts by YC Wee

7 Responses

  1. its a nice effort..infact i got one myna nestling dropped from its nest..i have kept it in a box..i am feeding it with cooked and mashed fish,banana,water,a little starchy water(in which cooked rice was mashed in) has hardly any body feathers,sparse down feathers,and wing feathers started to develop…please let me know what are the things to b taken care of,what are the other food i can give…thanks

  2. You can feed it a combination of starch and protein, keep the food mashed and soft and slightly watery. Any food like rice, fruits, minced meat, fish… It is not fussy. Keep it warm and away from the cat. At night keep it indoors. Give it a little exercise by allowing it to walk about. Keep the bottom of the box clean, changing the newspaper every now and then. When the feathers are developed, put a shallow dish of water for it to bath in. Later, allow it to perch on a stick or branch. Check out the other postings on the myna chick. All the best with your myna.

  3. Hi, I just picked up a Myna chick as well.I know what to feed thanks to you. but I’m not sure how to feed it. By spoon or syringe?any tricks on getting it to open its mouth? Thank you for your time.

  4. I used a pair of tweezers to put food into the mouth. It gaped all the time when it was hungry, especially the young chick. So I could feed it without handling it. The older one I got later needed to be in the hand before it opened its mouth. Hope this helps.

  5. “Unlike previously when anything that was placed into the throat was swallowed, this time the food offered, even when placed inside the throat, was first subjected to a vigorous shake of the head resulting in most being flicked away.”

    I have just picked up a baby mynah and have been raising it for the past few days. My baby mynah also appears to shake it’s head vigorously even when the food is placed inside the throat. Do you know why this happen and how do you solve this feeding issue? Thanks.

  6. Mynahs are among the easiest of orphaned fledglings to raise, but there are still several factors to consider. First, the very young birds imprint quite easily to people and are not prone to object when being fed. But older fledglings, especially those who have spent considerable time with their parents, and which have been taught by them to fear human beings, are far more problematic.
    Second, what are you feeding the birds on? If the food is not to their taste, too warm or too cold, they will shake their heads and spit it out.
    Let’s start with basics. I have found that for difficult babies, especially those that have learned to fear people, a syringe makes things easier. One person can hold the bird and open the beak while the other person squirts A LITTLE AMOUNT of food down the throat. Repeat the procedure, until the bird will no longer swallow.
    Yes, this force feeding is traumatic, and the baby bird will probably grow up hating you. Which might not be a bad thing if your plan is to eventually release it. After all, you don’t want the bird to be too tame and trusting to children who might harm it.
    Next question – what are you feeding the bird on, and at what temperature? Not meaning to promote the pet food industry, but I have found that almost all efforts to make your own formulae are not as convenient or give as good results as simply purchasing a packet of branded hand-raising formula from a reputable European or American manufacturer.
    Yes, 60 years ago when I first started raising baby birds, we had no choice but to formulate stuff by hit or miss. Today, most of the international brands offer good products, though they are not cheap. Count on paying between Sing Dollars $15 to $20 for enough to raise one baby mynah from the time you pick it up (usually when already fledged, but not flying properly) till it is ready to feed on its own. Even then, you have to wean it to solid food before you can release it.
    In the absence of hand-feeding formula, human baby food (fruit flavoured) is an acceptable substitute for mynahs. It is also not cheap, and you will need two or three jars to bring a fledgling up to the stage when it is weaned.
    Finally, at what temperature do you serve the food? Too warm or too cold from the fridge and the baby bird will panic at the unfamiliar feeling. I feed my baby birds with food at room temperature.

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