Javan Mynas anting in a tree

posted in: Feeding-invertebrates | 0

It was Christmas morning 2007. I woke up late after a night of partying. I was in the bathroom looking out of the windows directly into the starfruit tree (Averrhoa carambola).

All of a sudden I noticed a pair of Javan Mynas (Acridotheres javanicus) right in front of me. There was a glass pane between us and obviously the birds did not notice my presence.

The birds were jumping along the branches, flapping their wings and picking up something from the branches. Suddenly I realised that they were anting.

It was exciting to actually see the birds picking up the ants and placing them on their bodies, although I could not actually see the ants. But knowing that anting is common among mynas and the behaviour associated with it, it was obvious that they were doing what I thought they were doing. Unlike previous instances where the ants were kerengga or weaver ants (Oecophylla smaragdina), these were of a different species, yet to be identified.

The anting lasted about five minutes but I was not able to obtain any decent images because the birds were hidden by the dense foliage. And there was the widow pane between me and the birds.

Now I understand why birders generally miss observing anting. The action is rapid and unless one is knowledgeable of the phenomenon, one invariably misses the significance.

So far, anting by mynas has been reported to occur on the ground. This is a first report of anting by mynas in a tree.

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