Common Myna altercation over nest ownership

posted in: Intraspecific, Nests | 2

“This Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis tristis) altercation over nest ownership was observed during ‘MY Garden Birdwatch Malaysia’ day. I can across a number of mynas fighting over a nest. I am not able to determine who built it but the fight was fierce.

“Common Mynas are generally sociable and often seen foraging amicably in a group. However it is recognised that they do defend nesting sites and nest ‘takeovers’ with physical fights are known (Wells, 2007). I have seen this occasionally, as I am sure some of you have.

“The prize is a nest already constructed (or to be reused). It is in a box, about 3-4 meters up, on a roadside power line (left). The fight began when a myna flew in to confront another two that were already staking out the nesting site (above).

“A fight began almost immediately, moving from pole to pole, with physical contact (above). The fight then came down to the ground (below), 2-3 meters from me (in their intensity, they ignore me). There was extensive use of claws, pushing with the breast, use of wings to subdue the other, etc. In a short, a rough and tumble fight. All though out there were loud screeches.

“The mate of the nesting pair accompanied the fight all the way, to give support vocally but did not join in. I wonder if it’s the male’s job to secure the nest.

“One tactic I seen used in many myna fights is as shown above. one bird subdues the other and actually sits on the other. This is done either by actually resting on the down-turned bird (feet on the body) or spreading the wings out to cover the other bird. A ‘wing lock’ (like arm lock in wrestling) is often employed to get the other bird down…

“In between physical fights the birds will ‘face off’ with lots of calls, bowing and ruffling of feathers (heckling) as shown in these pictures. Occasionally a physical intimidation by moving nearer.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Canning Garden Home, Ipoh City, Perak, Malaysia
6th June 2010

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2 Responses

  1. Just saw something very similar in Honolulu. Mynahs fighting over a nest in a palm tree. Two males were principal combatants, but female partner(s) in the wings. The fight went on the following day, when it climaxed on an adjacent roof top. A group of about 8 other birds joined in as active spectators, standing on the sidelines and flying in and out to follow the fight. Finally one bird pinned the other down in a gutter on the rooftop. The fight ended after a rain squall, but my anthropomorphic interpretation was that the fight really ended when the one bird was pinned down in the gutter. The rain squall just permitted a graceful exit.

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