KC Tsang managed to persuade Dr Yeo Seng Beng to share his 2014 video of a pair of Javan Mynas (Acridotheres javanicus) picking ticks from his dog (above).
As seen in the video clip below, one myna in particular is actively moving all over the dog, pecking at various parts and even probing between the thick hairs. The mynas are obviously targeting ticks to feed on. Their bills are covered in blood, hopefully “it is the ticks’ blood and not dog blood,” wrote Seng Beng.
The dog has now passed away due to old age, at 15 years to be precise. At the time the video was made the dog was old and blind, thus it had little choice but to lie still to be take advantage of by the mynas. The metal tag on the right leg of one bird could imply that it may be someone’s pet bird and thus used to humans and their pets.
In the African plains, oxpeckers, also known as tickbirds, regularly pick ticks off various mammals like elephant, African buffalo, rhinoceros, giraffe (above), hippopotamus (below), kudu, eland, antelope, zebra, wildebeest, impala, warthog and even cattle (Craig, 2009).
Mynas have not been known to behave like oxpeckers. One reason is that they are omnivorous. A wide range of food from insects to fruits and vegetable materials, even small vertebrates, are available to them (Craig & Feare, 2009).
They are generally opportunistic birds. We have documented Jungle Myna (Acridotheres fuscus torquatus) following a water buffalo, to benefit from the insects displaced by movements of the latter. Also, Javan Mynas foraging with a wild boar.
In Singapore, Javan Mynas are always around grass cutters – regardless of whether a lawnmower or a motor-driven mower is used. A pair is usually around when a person is squatting down in his garden pulling out weeds.
Dr Yeo Seng Beng, KC Tsang & YC Wee
17th April 2016
(Image of oxpeckers on giraffe’s neck by Mark Chua, that of hippopotamus by YC Wee)
1. Craig, A. J. F. K., 2009. Family Buphagidae (Oxpeckers). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & D. A. Christie (eds.). Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 14. Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 642-653.
2. Craig, A. J. F. K. & C. J. Feare, 2009 Family Sturnidae (Starlings). In: del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & D. A. Christie (eds.). Handbook of the birds of the world. Vol. 14. Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Lynx Editions, Barcelona. Pp. 654-758.