Exceeding even the most gifted parrots in their ability to mimic human voices and other sounds, hill mynas are the most popular cage birds in Asia, and have long been in demand in the USA. Responsive and inquisitive, mynas make endearing pets for those with the time and space to devote to their care.
Hill mynas belong to the family Sturnidae (the starlings), which contains over 110 species including, it may surprise you to learn, the ubiquitous European starling, Sturnus vulgaris. Note the species’ name!…starlings have quite a bad reputation in some places – roosting by the thousands on buildings, devastating crops and displacing native hole-nesting birds such as woodpeckers. However, they are also valued as important insect predators and have other redeeming qualities. Other family members are quite rare – the brilliant white Rothschild’s myna, Leucopsar rothschildi, for example, occupies only in one small forest patch in Bali, Indonesia.
At least 10 subspecies of hill myna, ranging in size from 10-15 inches, have been identified. All are glossy black, tinted with purple, green and turquoise, and have white wing patches. The bill is red with a yellow tip, and fleshy yellow wattles decorate the face.
Range and Habitat
The hill myna occupies a huge range that stretches from eastern India (with an isolated population in the Western Ghats), Nepal and Sri Lanka east to southern China and south through Southeast Asia to Borneo, the Philippines and Flores. It prefers forest edges and cultivated land in areas of high rainfall, and rarely descends to the ground.
Status in the Wild
Habitat loss and collection for the pet trade threaten populations in some areas of the range, while populations are expanding in places where small scale agriculture has created edge habitat and forest clearings. Listed on Appendix II of CITES.
People in Assam, India set out nest hollows to induce mynas to breed in easily accessible locations, so that the young may be removed for sale. A project in Thailand is exploring the possibility of large scale breeding in outdoor enclosures.
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