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Exotic Myna bird causes problems

BirdLife Zimbabwe cautions that the Common (or Indian) Myna has well and truly arrived in Zimbabwe and is set to become a serious alien invader, posing a threat to some indigenous bird species.

Outdoor with Rosie Mitchell

Sad to say, this is already the case in many parts of the world and is a very fine demonstration of why exotic birds, animals and plants should never be introduced where they don’t belong, as the ecological and environmental implications are often serious, far-reaching, irreversible, and cannot be predicted.

Indian Mynas compete strongly with indigenous birds for food and nesting sites. In this country they have so far been known to evict Crested Barbets from nest holes and in wild areas often use Buffalo Weavers’ nests.

In South Africa Mynas have been seen to kill other birds’ chicks, either to take over the nest or eliminate competition for food. The likely scenario here is that the Common Myna will negatively affect populations of some common hole-nesting urban birds like barbets and starlings.

In Australia they are seriously controlled as they compete with both indigenous parrots and marsupials for tree holes, and on some islands, mynas threaten rare endemic bird species with extinction.

The Common Myna bird has brown and black plumage with white flashes in the wings seen in flight, yellow legs and bill and a yellow area behind the eye.

If you think you spot any mynas, email immediately, as Birdlife Zimbabwe is carefully monitoring their expansion and interaction with other bird species and can confirm the identification and take action.

Mynas are strong, fearless birds who forage in pairs and flocks in short grassed urban areas, like road verges, lawns, sports fields and parks. When not breeding, they can roost in thousands in dense trees in parks and gardens and are very noisy.

They breed in stolen nests and under bridges, in roofs, lamp posts and other structures, or densely foliaged trees in open public places.

In the early 20th century the Common Myna escaped or was released in Durban, Natal. Around 1938 a second population began to mushroom in Gauteng Province. In Natal, mynas quickly multiplied in urban areas.

In Gauteng they remained in parts of Johannesburg until the 1980s, then in the mid-1980s began expanding to Pretoria, and from there have spread to Mozambique, Botswana and by 2001, the Zimbabwean lowveld.

They reached Bulawayo in 2010, and in late 2012, a pair was seen at Chapman Golf Course, Harare.

They are now widespread in the south, mostly near towns and villages, and have also been seen in Mutare, Gona re Zhou National Park and Hwange National Park. In 2000, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) listed the Common Myna as one of the top 100 most invasive species in the world, of which only three are bird species.

Native to India and much of Asia, today they are found on all continents except South America and Antarctica, and on many islands worldwide.

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