All About Birds: The Fascinating Mynah Bird
An intelligent and delightfully entertaining bird with an uncanny ability to mimic human speech, the Mynah bird makes a fun pet you will really enjoy.
A member of the Starling family, this bird is indigenous to southern and eastern Asia, although a few species, including the Common Mynah, Greater Indian Hill Mynah and Java Hill Mynah, have been introduced into North America, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Because of the extreme damage that was being done to the natural habitats of many species of wild birds in Asia, the United States Congress enacted the Wild Bird Conservation Act in 1992, which prohibits the import of wild birds into this country. Although these birds are more difficult to find in pet shops than some other species, such parrots and canaries, you can obtain Myna birds from domestic breeders here in the United States.
Described as the best talking bird in the world, even better than parrots, Mynahs can mimic the human voice with exceptional clarity. Over the years, the Greater Indian Hill Mynah was most popular for its amazing talking ability and lively personality. Highly intelligent, the Greater Indian Hill Mynahs can be trained to mimic words and phrases, as well as some other sounds. The Java Hill Mynah, also popular, has a louder, more distinct voice which mimics deeper voices best. A tame Greater Indian Hill Mynah is easiest to handle and many actually enjoy being handled and cuddled, while the Java Hill Mynah prefers less cuddling and is content to just sit perched on your hand to gaze around at what you are doing.
The natural sounds made by Mynah birds include chirps, whistles, a clicking sound, squawks and even a croaking noise. When it sings, it usually fluffs up its feathers and even bobs its head, as if keeping time with the sounds it is making. In the wild, the Common Mynah will make a loud screeching sound to warn others when it feels threatened or is frightened. Mynah also have moods where they will be more vocal at times, whistling endlessly, so keep this in mind when you decide to adopt one, as these episodes can be quite loud and sometimes lengthy.You will find that Mynah birds become more vocal as they get older, so don’t be concerned if your young bird is somewhat quiet; this will change as it matures and become more familiar with its handler and surroundings.
This bird is classified as a “softbill” species, which means it eats soft foods. A healthy diet for a Mynah consists of foods “low in iron”, such as ripened fruits including apples, bananas, pears and peaches; avoiding the seeded fruits, as their digestive systems don’t handle them well. Although a low iron diet is important, make sure your bird’s diet does contain some iron. It is okay to offer canned fruits as a substitute once in a while; however, fresh fruits are best. Occasionally, you can feed them insects, such as spiders and grasshoppers, and as a special treat Mynahs enjoy nectar from flowers. Commercial softbill pellets are also available to feed your Mynah. It is important to make sure your Mynah bird has clean, fresh water available at all times. Mynah birds drink water by scooping it up in their bill, then tilting their head to allow the water to roll down into their gullet, so they drink a good amount of water.
The Great Indian Hill Mynah has a lean build and averages 10 inches in length, while the Java Hill Mynah is a bit longer at 12 inches with a stockier build. It is difficult to distinguish the male from the female by appearance or sound, as both genders basically look the same. The appearance of the Mynah is a dark brown/black body with a black head and a patch of yellow behind the eye. Its bright yellow bill and legs give it a whimsical appearance. The underside of the wings are a pale white, and there is also a white patch along the bottom third of the ends of the wings.
Mynah birds are clean birds and enjoy bathing every day; sometimes even twice a day. When setting up their habitat, make sure you provide a shallow dish large enough to hold about 2 inches of water, and allows them to move freely for bathing, as they love to splash and soak themselves to the skin. After bathing your Mynah will shake himself dry and use his beak to drink any extra water from his feathers. You can count on them wanting to bathe themselves after being handled.
A healthy Mynah will normally molt (lose feathers so new feathers can appear) at least once a year, sometimes even twice. A bird that does not molt at all may need its diet adjusted, as this is not normal and signals an underlying problem. Check with your veterinarian to make sure your bird’s diet is sufficient, and contains enough vitamins. Both wings will need to be clipped so your bird has balance when he tries to fly, and will not be clumsy and forced to land in places that are unsafe or even crash.