The Mynah Bird

Quick Facts

- Best for experienced owners
- Best solo
- Medium size
- Medium activity level
- Medium Trainability
- Medium sociability with people

Mynah birds are native to India, Indonesia and Ceylon. They are beautiful medium sized birds that look somewhat similar in appearance to the crow. They are part of the Starling family. Mynah birds have been kept as pets for several thousand years. They were kept by the rich and affluent in Ancient Greece and in India they were considered sacred birds and thus were honoured and treated with great respect.

There are eleven sub-species of Mynah bird, only two of these sub-species are commonly seen as pets- the Greater Indian Hill Mynah and the Java Hill Mynah. At one time almost all pet stores sold Mynah birds, but due to severe exploitation of the species, many countries have banned the importing of them. However, Mynah birds are now domestically bred and available from reputable breeders.

Mynah birds are extremely intelligent and trainable. They can learn tricks, but are not as capable as most parrots are at it. They are capable of learning to mimic human speech and can easily learn to say around 100 words. Not only do they mimic words, they also mimic tone and clarity. They are far better talkers than even the African Grey Parrot. Males and females talk equally well. However, Mynah birds seem to stop learning new words once they reach two years of age. They usually do not screech and scream like parrots, but they can be just as noisy; they have a rather shrill whistle that can irritate some people. Those wanting to be able to tame their Mynah bird and teach it to talk and do tricks should buy a hand-fed baby that is 6-8 weeks old.

Mynah birds are usually best kept solo. However, when raised together they can sometimes happily cohabitate with another of their kind. Mynah birds will attack birds smaller than themselves and should never be housed with other types of birds. They are moderately independent birds, but do enjoy a little human interaction. Some are easy to tame and enjoy being handled, while others never become completely tame. They tend to bond closest with the person who cleans and feeds them most often. They have excellent memories and will remember any mistreatment; they hold grudges and will dislike anyone similar looking to the person who mistreated them.

Mynah birds do not chew they way parrots do so are not as destructive, but they are just as messy, often throwing their food all over the place. They require a cage that is large enough for them to hop around in. The recommended cage size for one Mynah bird is about 4 feet wide, 2 feet high and about 2 feet deep. The cage should have several perches of different sizes and textures for the bird to hop around on. Many Mynah birds also enjoy a nest box to sleep in. Mynah birds enjoy having some toys to play with, however, they can be difficult to find; most bird toys are made for parrots and cockatiels. Toys made of string or rope should be avoided. Mynah birds need exercise and if possible should be allowed out of their cage to fly around each day. Before letting any bird out of their cage, owners should ensure all doors and windows are securely shut, water is covered, ceiling fans are turned off and any cats or other predatory animals are safely in a different room. Their cage should be put in a draft free area.

Appearance and Care:
Mynah Birds are gorgeous medium sized birds with glossy black feathers that shimmer in the light with purples, blues and greens. The Java Hill Mynah Bird measures around 12 inches long, while the Greater Indian Hill Mynah bird is slightly smaller. Mynah birds are monomorphic, which means males and females look identical and are basically impossible to tell apart other than through DNA testing or observing one lay eggs.

Like all birds, Mynahs need regular baths to help keep them clean. Most Mynah birds really enjoy bathing and will have two baths a day. They should be supplied with a large swallow dish of about 2 inches of warm water for them to splash around in. After a bath they will shake themselves dry.

Health and Diet:*
Mynah birds are fairly hardy birds with an average life span of 10-12 years. They are susceptible to iron storage disease and hemosiderosis. Iron storage disease is a metabolic problem that causes the malabsorption of iron. To help prevent this problem Mynahs should be fed a diet low in both iron and acid. Mynah birds should be taken to the veterinarian at the first signs of illness and for a yearly check up.

Mynah birds are soft-billed which means they eat soft foods. Their diet should be made up of about 50-60% pellets made especially for soft-billed birds or Mynah birds, and the rest should be ripe fruit. Most Mynah birds enjoy figs, berries, grapes, pears, bananas, melons, plums, papayas, peaches, apples and guavas. Citrus fruits should be avoided. All fruit should be carefully deseeded as many fruit seeds contain cyanide that is dangerous to birds. Mynah birds will also eat insects and some enjoy a few vegetables like lettuce, cooked sweet potatoes, peas and corn. However, vegetables should only be given as an occasional treat. Mynah birds require fresh water daily and should not be given tap water; distilled water is best.


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