How do we refer to the Javan Myna when the Javan Myna has become more the common myna than the Common Myna? Unlike us, tongue twisters and existential crises don’t bother the Javan Myna (Acridotheres tristis).
Javan Mynas originate from, well, Java (ornithologists have a sensible approach to description) but was introduced to Malaysia and Singapore as a caged songbird, due to its mellifluous voice and ability to imitate the calls of other birds.
These birds are hardy, adapting well to human habitats and in most places, have out-competed the Common Myna. They feed on insects, and are equally comfortable grooming water buffaloes in paddy fields, or hopping after grass-cutters at work, feasting on the fleeing insects. Also, Javan Mynas won’t say no to leftover food and rubbish, and are out foraging at earlier hours compared to other birds.
This opportunistic behaviour extends to their roosting habits. Javan Mynas are able to make their nests in urbanised areas, including in the crevices below flyovers and LRT tracks, or in between the gaps on road signboards.
The Javan Myna is a dark brown with a greyish-black hood and whitish vent, and yellow beak. When in flight, it shows white patches on the underside of its wings. Adult mynas usually have a small tuft at the front of their heads, although if you spot a bald myna, it’s probable that it has recently been fighting.
Usually gregarious, the Javan Myna can also be territorial to other birds, including its own kind. Fluffing up their feathers to appear threatening, Javan Mynas also display aggression by flapping their wings and pecking fiercely. The fights can be lead to the loss of feathers and sometimes a wing, although most of the time, the weaker bird will flee to a safer feeding spot.
This is actually a picture of the now-rarer Common Myna. If you would like to see a Javan Myna, you probably are seeing one right now if you look out your window.
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