Javan Mynas foraging on seagrass meadow

posted in: Feeding-invertebrates | 8

“I noticed a flock of Common Mynas (Acridotheres tristis) Javan Mynahs (Acridotheres javanicus) foraging on the seagrass meadows near the water line while I was surveying Pasir Ris on 23rd March 2015 [Note: misidentification corrected]. Every now and then, the birds would peck at the ground. I’m sorry I didn’t manage to photograph what they picked up.

“There were shorebirds and herons foraging on the water line further away from the beach, as usual.

“It appears to me that the mynahs were foraging at areas closer to humans and which the shorebirds shun.”

Ria Tan of Wild Singapore
5th April 2015

8 Responses

  1. Lee Chiu San

    Sorry Ria. I think there is a Mynah problem in your species identification. The birds in the photo look very much like Javan Mynahs (Acridotheres javanicus) to me. The Common Mynah (Acridotheres tristis) has become decidedly uncommon in Singapore. I wonder if foreign talent has displaced local talent even in beachcombing.

    Some years ago, our good webmaster raised the question of whether Common Mynahs were decreasing. At that time, when I was still living in Serangoon Gardens and maintaining four aviaries plus another half-a-dozen breeding cages. Wild bird were always hanging around for scraps, and I used to feed my pet birds’ leftovers to them. There was about a 50/50 mix of Javan and Common Mynahs then.

    Our webmaster raised this question again very recently. And the Nature Society’s recently-concluded survey on birdlife in Singapore examined it in more detail. Plus, one of the readers to this website has contacted me on the question of raising a baby mynah.

    I looked through all the photos I have taken in the past three years at my present home. And there is not a single one of a Common Mynah.

    The local versus foreign debate gets really interesting at this point. Is the Javan Mynah really an illegal immigrant? Or is it an undocumented long-time resident?

    Alec Fraser Brunner in “Common Malayan Birds” wrote in the 1960s that the Javan Mynah (he used the name Buffalo Mynah for this bird) was being replaced by the Common Mynah. But even before his writing, there were records of the Javan Mynah in Singapore.

    It was supposed that the Javan Mynah was introduced through the pet bird trade some time in the 1920s. Escapees and released birds bred locally. But was this species already present in Singapore and Malaysia even before then? After all, they could have flown over. Indonesia is not far away.

    Even until the 1950s, both Mynahs were not at all common here. I remember then that someone I knew had one as a pet, and he considered it valuable, not the case today.

    Why is the Javan considered a better pet than the Common Mynah. For one, it vocalises more freely, and its calls are generally more pleasant. Secondly, it does not moult in an unsightly manner. It was not unusual to see Common Mynahs with bald patches, or even totally bald heads.

    How did the Javan Mynah turn the tables and become more common than the Common Myhan? From my own observations of the freeloading birds in my garden, the Javan Mynah is more daring. Many will snatch food from tables. If you feed them regularly, within weeks they will take food from your hand. When there were both species around at my former house, I noted that if I stood some distance away, Common Mynahs could dominate Javan Mynahs and keep them away from food.

    But whenever a human, or for that matter, a cat got close, the Common Mynahs would move aside, while the immigrants were more prepared to take risks.

    I also request Dato Amar Singh to make a Mynah contribution to our knowledge and let us know what is the situation with these two species in Malaysia.

  2. joyce ycasas

    Thank you for all the interesting posts on this website. I myself was wondering why I have seen so very few Common Mynas in several months since coming to Singapore in February. I make it a point to look at every myna I come across, to see if it is a Common Myna — for a grand total of two, among all the hundreds (thousands?) of mynas seen to date! Is there hybridization among the Javan and the Common Mynas? Are Common Mynas displaced due to specific conditions/reasons?
    (Fortunately, there are many other birds to enjoy in my neighborhood, Tanjong Katong, including my faves, the Sunda Pygmy Woodpecker and many Long-tailed Parakeets.)

  3. YC

    Thanks for your support, Joyce. I think that the Javan is fast displacing the Common. Anyway we will be posting an account of the Common Myna soon. So stay tuned. Any other comments by other are welcome.

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