Common Myna – baldness not an obstacle to “love”

on 5th June 2011

“These were taken late in the evening in my neighbourhood, hence grainy.

“A pair of Common Mynas (Acridotheres tristis tristis) was bringing food to young. Notice the one is almost completely bald and the other is also a bit affected. Appears that this baldness is not an obstacle to mating and having young.

“The nest is one I have posted earlier – in a junction box for an electrical system LINK. It is often used and much material added over the years. Often hotly contested during nesting period.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Canning Garden Home, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
19th April 2011

Note: According to Clark (2004, p3.38), “Once in a while, a bird turns up with very few feathers on its head. The head may be bare, with ear opening clearly visible, or may have a short layer of barely emerging feathers. Generally the entire head from the neck up is bare, but sometimes just patches of feathers are missing. These “bald” birds… are seen mostly in the fall, …are probably juveniles born earlier in the year undergoing their first prebasic molt. For some unknown reasons, some of these birds drop all their head feathers at one time and quickly regrow them, rather than losing and replacing them a few at a time. Why birds occasionally become bald at other times of year, and why adult birds are sometime affected, remain a mystery. It’s possible that some type of atypical molt causes baldness in these birds, or that an infestation of feather lice or feather mites is responsible.”

Clark, G. A. Jr. (2004). [‘Form and function: The external bird.’]. Pp. 3.1-3.70 in Podulka, S., Rohrbaugh, R.W. Jr & Bonney, R. (eds.) Handbook of bird biology. Ithaca, NY: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

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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2 responses

  1. Many thanks for that. Was puzzled by a low res photo sent to me for ID of a bird in Melbourne, Australia, that had the plumage of myna but a head that looked more like a friar bird! Looking at this character here the image sent to me is very clearly a myna suffering exactly the same problem! Seen many thousands of mynas here, but never a bald one before!

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