Hill Mynah (Birds)






Gracula religiosa
Hill Mynah


• A colorful relative of the European starling
• Feasts on the fruit and nectar of tropical trees; in return, it propagates the seeds
• Extremely noisy, with a vocabulary of whistles, wails and squawks; a superb mimic in captivity
• Roosts are so packed, birds fight over perches


Found from India and Sri Lanka to southeastern China and south to Borneo, Java and Sumatra; also occurs on some small islands in Indian Ocean


Colorful flocks of hill mynahs are among the most evocative sights in Asia’s tropical forests, since the mynahs constantly call to each other and are almost always on the move.


A Forest fare Fruits, flowers and insects abound in the treetops.
A Forest fare Fruits, flowers and insects abound in the treetops.
The hill mynah is found in the lush tropical woodlands and forests of Southeast Asia. It descends from the canopy only
occasionally and avoids the densest jungle, preferring clearings or areas of forest edge.The mynah also visits plantations and other cultivated areas around villages, and is often seen near streams or pools, where it bathes daily to clean sticky fruit juices from its plumage.
The largest populations of the hill mynah occur on the forested lower slopes of mountain ranges, including sites at up to 6,600′ in the Himalayas, but the species is also common on lowland plains.
Apart from the human voice, captive hill mynahs have learned to imitate the sounds of footsteps, ringing telephones, creaking doors, car horns, dripping taps and even church bells.
The hill mynah learns some of its calls by copying its parents when it is very young.
Escaped pet mynahs have established a small feral population in Florida.


Although the hill mynah is able to mimic the human voice so expertly in captivity, it does not imitate the sounds of other animals when in the wild. However, it does copy the calls of neighboring mynahs. Consequently, mynahs living together in one area can be distinguished from those in another simply by listening to the unique “dialect,” or localized calls, used by each area’s birds. Every hill mynah uses 15 or so musical whistles and harsh squawks.
The hill mynah is a sociable and energetic bird that spends most of its time in small, fast-moving flocks. The largest (and loudest) flocks, sometimes hundreds strong, are those that form at the species’ traditional roost sites. At dusk, amid a cacophony of raucous calling, mynahs congregate at favored trees and fight for space on the highest, bare branches. As night falls, the birds split up and fly to individual perches in tree trunk cavities or on sheltered branches close to the trunk.

A What’s going on?

Compared to most medium-sized birds, the hill mynah is quite curious and fearless and investigates any loud or strange sounds.


Wild figs are the hill mynah’s favorite food, and are gathered by the hundreds when the fig trees are in full fruit The mynah flies from tree to tree to track down the ripest fruit. It swallows small fruits whole but has to slice larger ones apart with its powerful bill, before devouring each segment.The hill mynah is also fond of necta^the energy-rich liquid dispensed by flowers in exchange for pollination by insects, birds and mammals. When a mynah pushes its bill into a flower to reach the nectar inside, pollen sticks to its head. This pollen is then transferred to the blooms of the next tree visited by the bird.
The hill mynah supplements its mainly vegetarian diet by hunting insects; it flies into swarms of termites and snaps them up in midair From time to time, the mynah even hunts small rodents and lizards, killing them with hammer blows from its bill.


A hill mynah spots a tree laden with ripe figs and lands on an exposed branch to gorge itself.
The mynah is interested only in the fig’s juicy flesh but cannot avoid swallowing some of its seeds.
The fruit is easy to digest, but the hard seeds pass through the bird’s digestive system still intact.
The bird’s nitrogen-rich droppings act as fertilizer, so that a few seeds grow into new fig trees.


The hill mynah is scarce in some parts of its range due to huge numbers of chicks being taken from nests to be sold as pets, but the mynah is not endangered. Stricter laws controlling the trade in cagebirds have at last been passed, which should lead to a gradual recovery of mynah populations.


Male and female hill mynahs pair for life and nest in bustling colonies. Quarrels over nest sites, located 33-50′ above ground level, are boisterous but rarely cause injury. Once a pair of mynahs has established a site, only a small area around the nest is defended against other birds. In fact, several pairs may breed in the same tree.
The hill mynah nests in an old tree hole, often made by a woodpecker, and lines it with twigs, grass, leaves and feathers.Two or three naked and blind chicks hatch after an incubation of 2-3 weeks. Insects rather than fruit form the bulk of the chicks’ diet,but by the time they leave the nest, 3-4 weeks later, the young are feeding on fruit, flower buds and nectar as well.
Marathon task Adult mynahs seek food nonstop for their chicks.
Marathon task Adult mynahs seek food nonstop for their chicks.


Hill Mynah

Thanks to its eye-catching plumage and raucous calls, the hill mynah is hard to miss — even its wings make a noise as it flies overhead.
Hill Mynah


Rothschild’s mynah (Leucopsar rothschildi) and the hill mynah share compact body plans, but the former
is smaller and slimmer. Sometimes known as the Bali starling, Rothschild’s mynah can erect a crest of long plumes along the back of its neck. Instead of wattles, it has a bare, blue skin area between its bill and eyes. Although starlings and mynahs include some of the most abundant and adaptable birds, the cagebird trade has reduced the wild population of Rothschild’s mynah to just 200, in a stretch of forest on the Indonesian island of Bali.

Weight 5-9.5 oz, depending on subspecies
Length 10-15″
WlNGPAN 17-26″
Sexual Maturity 1 year
Breeding Season April-July
Number of Eggs 2-3
Incubation Period 13-19 days
Fledging Period 21-30 days
Typical Diet Fruit (especially figs), nectar and insects, with a few small rodents and lizards
Lifespan 8-15 years


• The hill mynah has 11 . : races with varied size and wattle pattern; it’s I of 10 mynah species in the starling family, Sturnidae. Many of the 110 species of Sturn dae, including East Africa’s superb starling, Spreo superbus (below), have plumage that glints in the sunlight.

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