The Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) is one of the most commonly encountered birds of India. Originally, a species of open woodlands of Asia, it adapted extremely well to urban environments and followed humans across the globe. In 2000 the IUCN Species Survival Commission declared it among the world’s 100 worst invasive species. However, this is hardly the fault of the birds as they were introduced by our ancestors themselves, for example, to Australia and America in an attempt to control insects.
The birds pair for life and breed almost throughout the year. They are omnivorous, feeding on small animals such as insects as well as seeds and fruits. Since interactions with humans started, they also look out for our leftovers. As the birds are very territorial, they often start fights with other birds, even kicking out young ones from their nests! This somewhat antisocial behaviour helped them gain a dominant status in many Australian cities, for example. Nevertheless, their reputation in local conservation groups is rather low.
At the end of this post, however, I want to direct your attention to their beautiful eyes. These have been recognised already by Indians thousands of years ago who gave the birds the Sanskrit name chitranetra which means “picturesque eyes”. I have photographed them in January 2014 around the Amber Fort near Jaipur, Rajasthan, India.