At about 6.40 am on 4th June 2010, I was awaken by the loud shrill whistle of a pair of Hill Mynas (Gracula religiosa). For the next 15 minutes or so I enjoyed the mixture of sounds that included the tinkling of bells and metal striking against metal. The loud whistle was followed by softer sounds that sounded like the mooing of a cow. At first I thought these consistent cow-like sounds came from elsewhere but then there were no cows around. On another occasion the softer sounds following e!ch loud whistle sounded like mimicry of other bird calls.
During the months of September and October 2010, a pair would fly in on and off, announcing the arrival with the characteristic loud whistles. Usually one would first arrive on the top of one of my ceram palms (Rhopaloblaste ceramica). Its loud whistles would attract its mate (left above). Soon there would be a duet, one calling and the other replying. Then just as suddenly as they arrived, the pair would fly off.
These calls were always made with the mandibles open wide (left below).
The crown of the palms is a favourite perch with the Hill Myna as well as other birds as it is one of the tallest point in the neighbourhood, giving the birds a clear, unobtrusive view of the surroundings.
Wells (2007) describes the volcalisation of the Hill Myna as “…intense whistles; various human-like conversational sounds; mimicry of other birds…” Bertram (1970), quoted by Feare & Craig (1998), has this to say: “…loud, piercing, short, descending squeaks, made by all adults when alarmed or when communicating with other mynas some distance away… soft high-pitched sounds mde by inactive birds… ‘Calls’ comprise the huge variety of whistles, croaks, wails and shrieks given when mynas see or hear each other.”
1. Feare, C. & A. Craig, 1998. Starlings and mynas. Christopher Helm (Publishers) Ltd., London. 285 pp.
2. Wells, D.R., 2007. The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsular. Vol. II, Passerines. Christopher Helm, London. 800 pp.