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Javan Mynas anting in a tree

on 4th August 2008

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.

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.

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