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Birds of the world. A-Z of Bird genera. Part 4, Acridotheres. Myna birds

Updated on October 7, 2015




Here in part four of this series, A-Z of Bird Genera,we continue to look at bird genera beginning with A. The genus Acridotheres,is a genus of, for all intents and purposes, of Starlings. Typical Myna's are tropical members of the family Sturnidae to which the Common or Eurasian Starling belongs.

Members of this genus are distributed in tropical southern Asia from Iran to east southern China and Indonesia. Some species have been introduced to other countries of the world such as South Africa, Australia and North America. Despite the name of Myna,the birds of this genus are more closely related to starlings of Eurasia. As is sometimes the case in Taxonomy it is a complicated situation,with some Authorities differing considerably with which species are placed in this genus. Here we review the 'core' members of the genus Acridotheres.

Acridotheres grandis

Taken in Thailand.
Taken in Thailand. | Source

A look at the species

We commence with the Great Myna, Acridotheres grandis, a species found in north east India and the south-east of Asia. It is often referred to as the White vented Myna or Crested Myna. They are usually encountered in pairs or small groups.

This species measures about ten and a half inches long including the tail. The overall plumage is black. They have a tall wispy crest about one to two inches long over the bill, the crest of the female being longer than that of the male. The eyes are amber brown. The legs and bill are bright yellow.

They are birds of open country such as grassland and marshes,including cultivated areas and rice fields. They feed on insects and other invertebrate.they nest in the cavities of trees and in holes in rocks or walls. The nest is an untidy structure of grasses usually at a height of five metres or more.

Crested Myna. Acridotheres cristatellus

Taken at Osaka Japan.
Taken at Osaka Japan. | Source

Crested Myna Acridotheres cristatellus.

this species is native to south-east China and Japan,and Indochina. It may be distinguished by its pale bill rather than the more usual bright yellow colour in other Mynas.It is a bird that was introduced to the Vancouver region of British Columbia,however,after initial successes the bird is now absent from North America.

There are three sub-species A.cristatellus cristatellus, which occurs in south and south-east China.

A.cristatellus brevipenne, which occurs in Laos and Vietnam. and

A cristatellus formosanus, which occurs in Tawain.

The type species is a mostly black Myna with elongated forehead feathers forming an obvious frontal crest, from which it takes its common name. The crown and nape feathers are hackled. A large white patch on each wing and white tail tip are obvious in flight.

They feed on insects and other invertebrate,waste food left by humans and they will also scavenge on dead fish. They forage on the ground. The breeding season is from April to August and they often produce two broods or more per season. The female will produce four eggs which she incubates for a period of fifteen days or so. The resulting chicks fledge in a further twenty one to thirty days.

In some regions it is classed as an invasive species. It was introduced into South Africa where it is a problem in the regions of Lumpogo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, north west and northern Cape. The bird may potentially cause severe damage to agricultural crops. It is also an aggressive bird competing with indigenous species for food.

Javan Myna

Taken at a residential garden Merryn Road Singapore.
Taken at a residential garden Merryn Road Singapore. | Source

Javan Myna . Acridotheres javanicus.

The Javan Myna, Acridotheres javanicus, is also referred to by the common names of White Vented Myna, and the Buffalo Myna. It is regarded as conspecific and thought to be in competition with the Common or Indian Myna { see below }, in some of its range.

As is often the case, there is some confusion over the naming between Acridotheres grandis and A.javanicus, which was,until recently, considered to be a sub-species of the Pale bellied Myna A.cinereus.

This species is common in much of south east Asia and has spread into India and the adjacent regions.The Javan Myna is another species often regarded as being a pest. Because of their liking for urban areas they deposit their droppings on buildings. Like most starlings they roost in large numbers and from these roosts the ground below is contaminated with their droppings.They are also extremely noisy birds. Like the European starling it can imitate other bird sounds and also some human noises such as a ringing telephone.

It is primarily a black plumaged bird with a white vent,white wing patch and white on the under sides of the tail.The eye ring is yellow as are the legs and bill.

They are omnivorous species preying on insects. In rice fields the insects are disturbed by the Water Buffalo,and the birds readily take advantage. They are often seen riding on the backs of these animals.

They are also very adaptable as far as breeding locations are concerned. The nest as a rule is in the eaves of houses but many other sites may be chosen. Their original habitat was open forests but they have now spread far and wide into urban areas and have become established in non-native countries such as Singapore,where it was introduced in the nineteen twenty's.

Illustration of the Pale bellied Myna

Illustration by Joseph Smit
Illustration by Joseph Smit | Source

The Pale bellied Myna. Acridotheres cinereus.

Acridotheres cinereus, is the Pale- bellied Myna, a species which is endemic to the south Peninsular of Sulawesi ,Indonesia. However, it has been introduced to Sarawak {Borneo} and East Timor.

This species is mostly grey coloured about ten inches long {25 cm },. The feathers of the forehead are erected and form a crest, the crown feathers are also elongated. The head is a blackish grey colour with a grey hind neck and upper parts. It is paler on the rump.They have dark brown wings with a white patch. The tail is brownish-black with a white tip.

The chin is ashy-grey,as are the throat and breast. The belly is paler grey,the vent white. The eyes are lemon yellow to brownish orange. The bill is yellow with a small blue-grey patch at the base of the lower mandible. The legs are also yellow.

It is a species of open locations,including rice fields, villages and also other cultivated areas. They feed on insects and fruit in the main, but in common with other starling species they are omnivorous. They are often encountered feeding among cattle. They nest in tree holes.

Jungle Myna.

Taken in Kolkala, West Bengal, India.
Taken in Kolkala, West Bengal, India. | Source

Jungle Myna.

The Jungle Myna , Acridotheres fuscus, is a common species in tropical southern Asia,from Nepal,Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Burma,and east to Indonesia. This species is also a greyish Myna with a along bristly nasal crest. The head is a glossy black colour. The grey of the body becomes paler at the rump. The blackish-brown wings have a white patch. The brownish black tail has a white tip. The under tail coverts are also white.

The ye is pale yellow. An orange-yellow bill appears to be shorter than it actually is, by having a black base which blends in with the black of the face. They are paler than the Javan Myna and the black base of the bill distinguishes it from that species. It is also paler than the Crested Myna {above} which has dark under tail coverts.

They are birds of the forest edge,deciduous woodland, tea plantations and villages,along with cultivated areas.They occur in lowland and foothills,however, in the Himalayas, they have been encountered up to the altitude of 2000 metres. They roost communally in reed beds, sugar cane and trees, where they may share the roost with the common Myna or Rosy starlings.

They forage on the ground,often in flocks,but sometimes in pairs,where they feed on insects,fruit, seed and nectar. They will also take advantage of household scraps. The breeding season for this species is from January to July. They often breed in colonies. The nest is placed in a tree hole,where the female will lay three to six eggs. They will raise more than one brood per season. In many countries they are kept as pets. In these circumstances they often escape leading to feral populations occurring.

Collared Myna. Illustration.

Illustration by John Gerrard Keulesmans. Creative Commons.
Illustration by John Gerrard Keulesmans. Creative Commons. | Source

Collared Myna.

The Collared Myna , Acridotheres albocintus, is a species native to China.India and Myanmar.It is a large and distinctive Myna, with a white neck collar. The head is black and they have a short nasal crest. The upper parts are greyish-black, the under parts are slightly paler.. The wings are black with a small white wing patch. The black under tail coverts have white bars. The tail is black with a white tip. The eyes are pale blue. The bill is orange yellow the legs are yellow. These birds are about ten inches long.

The frequent open grassland and moist areas such as marshes. They are also encountered in villages and cultivated regions. They feed on plant and animal food. Feeding is undertaken in flocks,and at this time may be associated with the Great Myna. This is another species of Myna often encountered feeding near cattle and water Buffalo.

Breeding occurs in colonies with the nest being placed in a tree hole, but they may also choose a hole in a bank or a wall. The female will deposit four eggs.

Bank Myna

Taken on the banks of the Gange at Bithur India.
Taken on the banks of the Gange at Bithur India. | Source

Bank Myna

The Bank Myna, Acridotheres ginginianus, is native of southern Asia,and is similar to the common Myna {below}. However, it can be differentiated by the grey plumage,and the brick red eye colouring. It is a smallish Myna about eight and three quarter inches long. The general plumage colour is grey. t.They have a black head and frontal crest. The wings are glossy black with a buff wing patch.The tail is black with lighter coloured outer tail feathers,which are prominently displayed during flight. The red eye alos has a bright orange red cheek patch. The bill and legs are orange yellow.

They frequent the foothills of eastern Pakistan,to south Nepal,north central India and Bangladesh. they have been introduced to other countries including Japan and the United Arab Emirates. This species is encountered both in cultivated areas and cities. In the country areas they are another species associated with cattle. They roost in large colonies outside the breeding season. Like their congeners they are omnivorous,feeding on animal and plant food, along with human scraps.

The breeding season is generally from April until June. The species excavates a tunnel in a river bank for its nest,hence the common name. The female will deposit three to six eggs in a bulky nest constructed of grass, feathers and scraps of refuse stuffed into the end of the tunnel. The incubation period lasts for about thirteen days,the task being carried out, in the main, by the female. Both birds feed the resulting chicks which are ready to leave the nest in a further twenty to twenty three days. They are not a bird of conservation concern.

Common or Indian Myna

Kokrebuller ,India.
Kokrebuller ,India. | Source

Common Myna gathering nesting material.


The turquoise eggs of the common Myna


We conclude with the Common Myna.

We conclude our review with a look at the Common or Indian Myna, Acridotheres tristis, A species native to India. This is a bird of open woodland and it is very territorial. They have expanded their haunts to include urban districts where they have come into conflict with man.Indeed it was declared one of the most invasive species that capable of posing an impact on Biodiversity,Agriculture and Human interests. In Australia it was listed as being a serious threat to the ecosystems.

They have been introduced to many other parts of the world such as Canada,South Africa, New Zealand,and to Islands in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.It is increasing in numbers at an alarming rate.

There are at least two sub-species, Acridotheres tristis melanosternus ,which is endemic to Sri Lanka, and A,tristis tristis which is wide spread including Sri Lanka. Some authorities declare two more A.tristis tristoides and A. tristis naumanni.

The plumage of this species is predominantly brown with a black hooded head. There is a bare yellow patch behind the dark eye. The bill and legs are bright yellow. There is a white patch on the wings and the underside of the wings are white. The wings are darker towards the tips. The upper tail is black the underside white.

This species nests in holes in trees or holes in a wall,and breed throughout most of the year. They easily take to nest boxes and nests of other species are often commandeered. The untidy nest is composed of grasses, twigs,roots and litter, even tissue paper. The female will deposit four to six eggs of a turquoise colour. The eggs are incubated for a period of seventeen to eighteen days. The chicks will fledge in a further twenty three to twenty five days. Many brood s are raised by a pair.

They are noisy communal roosters and like other members of this family are omnivorous feeding on plant and animal food. They are opportunist feeders and like other Mynas are often associated with cattle.

Juvenile in nest hole



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    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Lancashire north west England


      Hi Deb, They do bring to mind the Cattle Egret with their association with cattle , but these birds are like most starlings and will eat almost anything including eggs and even nestlings if the opportunity arises. Best wishes to you.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      If these birds like cattle, they are like our Cattle Egret, though look nothing like it. Do they eat the eggs of other birds?

    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Lancashire north west England

      Hi Devika,

      Thank you for your amazing and encouraging comments. Best wishes to you.


      Hi Sally, Your welcome, and thank you for taking the time to comment. Hope you are well. Best wishes to you.

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      3 years ago from Norfolk

      I am familiar with the Myna from South Africa. They are real characters and can be taught to talk from an early age much like a parrot. I can't tell you how often I was caught out by a Myna mimicking a telephone ring. I would find myself running indoors to answer the phone when actually it was only a Myna in the garden who had learned a telephone ring.

      Great images and info as always. Thanks for sharing Dave.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Incredible! Part four is beautiful hub. Birds are are amazing creatures and full of life.


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