Overview of the common (Indian) myna (Acridotheres tristis or Sturnus tristis)

Common or Indian mynas are native to India and southern Asia. They are popular birds in their source countries as crop pest control agents and as symbols of undying love associated with their habit of pairing for life1.

Indian myna taken by Andrew Tatnell.

The native noisy miner taken by Lip KeeYap

Distribution:

Mynas have spread worldwide over the last 200 years. In Australia, common mynas are often confused with the native noisy miner (Manorina melanocephala) and sometimes with yellow-throated miner (Manorina flavigula) (see photos) because of their similar size and appearance.

The common myna has:

  • a brown body
  • a glossy black head, neck and upper breast
  • distinctive white patches on their wings that are clearly visible in flight.

Common mynas are now widespread throughout eastern Australia from western Victoria in the south to Cairns in the north. They were first brought into Australia from Asia in 1862 to control caterpillars and other insects in market gardens around Melbourne2. In 1883, mynas were transported to Townsville and neighbouring sugarcane-growing areas in north Queensland to combat locusts and cane beetles2. Common mynas were also introduced in New South Wales, although the origin and reasons for the introduction are uncertain. Historical records indicate that the bird was once a protected species in NSW in the 19th century1.

Common mynas live in a range of climates and habitats and are extremely adaptable. They prefer warm to hot climates and are more abundant in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate areas. Open areas where there is little tree cover, such as suburban open parks and gardens, are their prime habitats. The common myna also inhabits cleared agricultural areas, especially open grasslands, cultivated paddocks, cane fields and plantations. In Cairns, there are up to 1000 common mynas per km2. They are capable of expanding their present range into other states, such as NT, SA, TAS and WA1.

Impacts:

Mynas were listed among 100 of the world’s worst invasive species by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in 2000. In Australia, common mynas are considered to threaten native biodiversity due to their territorial behaviours and nest cavity competition. They are lifelong monogamous and sedentary3 — breeding pairs use the same territory each year and maintain and defend their territory aggressively during the breeding season (August to March)4. This behaviour is thought to evict native bird species from nesting boxes or tree hollows and even kill eggs and chicks3. The common myna is also known to carry diseases such as avian malaria (Plasmodium and Haemoproteus spp.), which can drive some native birds into extinction3.

Common mynas can cause serious damage to ripening fruit, such as grapes and blueberries4. Roosting and nesting near residential areas often results in noise complaints and health and safety concerns3. Common mynas are known to carry diseases, such as avian influenza and salmonellosis3, and parasites such as mites, which can cause dermatitis in humans3. In a nation-wide survey in 2005, the Australian public rated the common myna as the most significant pest, beating contenders such as the cane toad, European rabbit and feral cat5.

The perceived impacts of the common myna are often based on unreliable information, and there is a lack of scientific research that quantifies or confirms the bird’s actual impacts5. The common myna is not listed as a ‘key threatening process’ under the Commonwealth’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act 1999. No particular legislative responsibility for myna control/management exists in states where mynas are already established, such as QLD, NSW and VIC (see Table). Conversely, import and keeping of common mynas is prohibited and they are ‘declared’ in states/territories where common mynas have not established yet, such as NT, SA, TAS and WA.

Legislative status of the Indian myna in Australian states and territories.

Jurisdiction Declared? Legislation Note Prohibited? Legislation
ACT Yes (invasive species) Pest Animal Management Strategy 2012-2022 Canberra Indian Myna Action Group (CIMAG) assists with trapping of myna in backyards. No, not listed as already well established Pest Plants and Animals Act 2005
NSW No Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995
Rural Lands Protection Act 1998
No, unprotected National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974
NT No Territory Parks & Wildlife Conservation Act 2002 No, restricted Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2007
QLD No Land Protection (Pest & Stock Route Management) Act 2002 Can be declared under local government law. No Nature Conservation Act 1992
Nature Conservation (Wildlife) Regulation 2005
SA Yes Natural Resources Management Act 2004 Alert pest animal: focus on prevention and early intervention Yes Natural Resources Management Act 2004
TAS Yes (feral priority 1 species) Vermin Control Act 2000 Highest priority: Unwanted in the wild and need to be eradicated. Importation without a permit is illegal. Yes Nature Conservation Act 2002
VIC No Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994
Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988
Not listed as a threatening process due to a lack of sufficient current scientific evidence. No, unprotected Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994
WA Yes Agriculture and Related Resources Protection Act 1976 Yes Agriculture and Related Resources Protection Act 1976

More information:

  1. Tidemann C (2005). Indian Mynas — Can the problems be controlled? In: M Hayward (Ed), Proc. of the 15th National Urban Animal Management Conference, Australian Veterinary Association, Canberra Pp 55-57.
  2. Gregory-Smith R (1985). Introduction and spread of the Common Myna in Canberra. Canberra Bird Notes 10(3): 97-103.
  3. Markula A, Hannan-Jones M and Csurhes S (2009). Pest animal risk assessment: Indian myna (Acridotheres tristis). Biosecurity Queensland, Brisbane.
  4. Tracey J and Saunders G (2003). Bird damage to the wine grape industry — report to the Bureau of Rural Sciences, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
  5. Lowe KA, Taylor CE and Major RE (2011). Do Common Mynas significantly compete with native birds in urban

The authors of these documents have taken care to validate the accuracy of the information at the time of writing. This information has been prepared with care but it is provided “as is”, without warranty of any kind, to the extent permitted by law. The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions the authors work for or those who funded the creation of this document.

How to reference this page:

Centre for Invasive Species Solutions, 2014. Overview of the common (Indian) myna (Acridotheres tristis or Sturnus tristis). Factsheet. PestSmart website. https://pestsmart.org.au/toolkit-resource/overview-of-common-indian-myna-acridotheres-tristis-or-sturnus-tristis accessed 28-10-2020