Expressions of a Javan Myna

posted in: Morphology-Develop. | 1

“Being Singapore’s most common avian species, the omnipresent Javan Myna (Acridotheres javanicus) will normally not generate any interest. There are times, however, when even the most common can become a source of amusement. I wish to share the attached pictures of a Javan Myna that was encountered at the Swan Lake at the Singapore Botanical Gardens. Its expressions were most entertaining.

“This myna must have got used to people as it was very bold. Even at a close distance of two metres, instead of flying off, it stayed put. It tilted its head to look curiously at this intruding photographer; probably sizing me up (above left). It then turned its head to show me its side profile with well-groomed, combed-back hair style (above right). The crest at its forehead was raised. Turning to face the camera directly, its expression was one of anger (below left). The angry bird puffed itself up to appear bigger than normal to intimidate. It appeared even angrier as it stared straight into the camera to further its intimidation. Its hair seemed to be electrified as all its crown feathers stood up and was almost upright (below right).

“After its short outburst, its anger abated and its mood changed. Slowly, the punky hairstyle resumed back to its combed-back style (below).”

Kwong Wai Chong
6th August 2011

  1. Jeremy Lee

    Your pictures of the facial expressions of the Javan Myna brings back fond memories. Our pet mynas often break into succession of several different facial expressions while vocalizing a self composed tune of screeches and whistles.

    I am sure we have all seen mynas doing their territorial displays, but our pet was raised without interaction with other wild mynas. I never managed to figure out what it was trying to convey through those 20-30 second long behaviors. It almost looked possessed, with the angry look and the raised feathers on the head and vocalizing in a manner that I cannot understand.

    Strangely enough, it will slip back to its normal self, making gestures and sounds that we can understand and we can tell whether it is really angry or playful.

    Looking at the photos, it is not very difficult to find where the inspiration for the Angry Birds game came from 😛

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