Common Myna

Acridotheres tristis

  • Version: 2.0 — Published January 1, 2001
  • Ragupathy Kannan and Douglas A. James

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Figure 1. Distribution of the Common Myna in North America and the Hawaiian Islands.

This species also occurs on Midway Atoll. The Florida distribution shows the most recent counties of occurrence. This species also breeds in Asia, where it is native. See text for details.

Common Myna adult; Florida

; photographer Various

To some Hawaiians the myna bird is amusing, to some he is of no concern one way or the other, but to some he is a threat to the mental health of the human race. G. Laycock (Laycock 1966)

The Common Myna, a native of southern Asia, was widely introduced (mainly for pest control) in the late 1800s in many far-flung areas of the world. Since these introductions, the species has displayed remarkable versatility by establishing itself in abundance in many parts of the new range. With its trim, well-groomed appearance and jaunty, confiding demeanor, it is one of the most familiar birds wherever it occurs. People worldwide have ambivalent feelings about this species, however, because, despite its pest-control, seed-dispersal and pollination services and its popular appeal, it takes crops and is noisy at roosts. It may also be a direct threat to some native birds of oceanic islands because it competes aggressively for limited nest sites and is known to prey on eggs. There is also some evidence that these mynas may be reservoirs or sources of avian malaria.

The Common Myna was introduced into the Hawaiian Islands in 1865 by William Hillebrand to control a plague of cutworms and army worms (Lepidoptera). By as early as 1879, this bird was abundant; today, it is one of the most common and most widespread avian species in all of the human-inhabited islands. In the continental United States, the species first appeared in Florida in the mid-1980s and seems to be spreading and establishing itself in that state. Occasional cage escapees have been seen in southern California, but apparently this myna has never become established independently there in the wild.

Since many of the introduced populations, especially those of oceanic islands, have been cut off from source populations for more than a century, the Common Myna has been an ideal subject of study for geneticists and evolutionary biologists (Baker and Moeed 1987, Fleischer et al. 1991b). Studies of life-history traits, genetics, and morphometrics among introduced and native populations have yielded insights into mechanisms underlying microevolutionary processes (e.g., Gibson et al. 1984, Baker and Moeed 1980).

This account covers information from both native and introduced ranges. The ubiquity and popularity of this bird, especially in the Old World, accounts for considerable literature on the species. Much of the information presented in this monograph originates from life-history studies conducted on O'ahu Island in the Hawaiian archipelago by Telecky (Telecky 1989) and in India by Sengupta (Sengupta 1982). The former study focused on breeding biology and compared data collected in a 4-year period in Waimänalo, O'ahu Island, with that available in the literature from native populations in India and from populations introduced in Honolulu (O'ahu Island), and in New Zealand.

Recommended Citation

Kannan, R. and D. A. James (2001). Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole and F. B. Gill, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.