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Manu Minute: The common myna

A. Tanimoto-Johnson Mynah with juvenile(1).jpg
Ann Tanimoto-Johnson
/
HPR
Common mynas are about nine inches long, chocolate brown with black heads yellow bills and legs, and bright yellow bare skin behind their eyes. They have little patches of white under their tails and on their wings.

Myna birds are very good at what they do, and that's being a pest. Whether introduced accidentally or purposefully, the common myna quickly colonizes new landscapes, terrorizing other birds, spreading disease and invasive seeds, and damaging fruit crops in the process.

The origin story of mynas in Hawai'i is yet another example of early and misguided bio-control efforts. They were brought to O'ahu from India in the 19th century in order to control cutworms and other insects in agricultural fields. At first, this strategy paid off, but then the mynas set their sights on the shores of the neighbor islands. Within a few decades, they were everywhere.

Fortunately, our native forests don't appear to appeal to common myna birds. These city-slickers prefer to forage in urban settings, and their high-pitched chatter is near-constant tune in our daily lives. See if you recognize it with today's Manu Minute!

AMTJ_Common myna Spectrogram Video.mp4

Audio credit: Peter Boesman/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (ML284474)

Patrick Hart is the host of HPR's Manu Minute. He runs the Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Lab at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
Ann Tanimoto-Johnson is the Lab Manager & Research Technician in the Hart Lab/Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Bioacoustics Lab. She researches the ecology, bioacoustics, and conservation of our native Hawaiian forests, birds, and bats.
Savannah Harriman-Pote is a producer for The Conversation and Manu Minute. Contact her at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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