MYNAH MESSENGER: Over the Hill Mynahs


Mynahs are magnetic! Whenever you see or hear one, you are immediately drawn in for an eye-to-eye look. Closer inspection of what appeared to be just a black bird reveals a veil of iridescent violet, blue, green and purple that glimmers when caught by the light. Black mynahs have a hallmark white wing patch and a bright hill of candycorn orange and yellow. Sides of the head are decorated with bright yellow flesh ribbons, called wattles, varying in length and pattern with subspecies.

But looks aren't all that the Hill Mynahs (Craw/a religiosd) have going for them. They are a complete home entertainment unit-intelligent, curious, haughty, comical to watch and capable of playing games to amuse themselves and you. They are the happiest and happiest birds around, able

to cover a vast amount of territory without ever lifting a wing, especially when it is time to go back to their cage. Their ability to mimic is unsurpassed in the avian world.

In the past, mynahs were imported in great quantities; they were quite popular and inexpensive. This popularity has decreased in recent years. We have a strong desire to help regenerate the hill mynahs' popularity and availability as domestic, hand-reared birds, not as wild caught imports. We have a responsibility to the mynahs to successfully breed them in captivity and to stabilize their populations so mynahs can survive.

As a case in point, we have two Java Hill Mynah males and are having a "mynah boggling" time finding hens for them. Ninety percent of the domestic Java Mynahs are directly related to one pair (owned by Lynda Scott) which have produced 21 living offspring to date.

If we had two unrelated pairs breeding successfully, it would contribute greatly to the Java Hill Mynah gene pool. It may be difficult for someone to give up their pet to participate in a breeding program, however, exchanging an adult bird for a captivereared baby has its advantages. The baby will be tame and will readily learn to talk. Upon reaching maturity, the bird could again be traded for a baby and the adult could he paired with an unrelated mate to begin a whole new cycle of mynahs. Former mynah pets can start teaching their babies to talk while still in the nest. Who knows, perhaps talking to the eggs will affect the developing embryos, too.

The hill mynahs are distributed throughout India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Southeast Asia. Once numerous in these areas, their numbers are now dwindling rapidly due to deforestation and loss of habitat.


Mynahs' Ability To Talk

Sunny, a two year old Java Hill Mynah, was taken from the nest at five days of age for hand-rearing. At five weeks, he said "hello" and has not stopped talking since, except for an occasional hiatus when he seem so be thinking things over. In the beginning,


we used a 15-second continuous tape to teach the mynah to talk, but with no success. The mynah leaned to talk from the people in the house and even picked up more vocalizations from the resident Yflllow-naped Amazon, Pepe, and the Maroon-tailed Conure, Surfer Bird.

Some of the phrases Sunny repeats are: 'Tm a mynah bird; I'm a mynah birdie doggie; Good Morning, SuSu; Well ... Open the door; I'm a rock 'n roller; What-cha doing; Hi Buddy; Wowee!" He also sings scales, has five fancy whistles, barks and is learning more all the time. The bird has three distinct voices-Suzanne's, the Yellownaped Amazon's and the Exorcist's.

Our other Java Hill Mynah, "Scotty" was captured from the wild. He was previously owned by a Malaysian gentleman, so he speaks MalayoPolynesian most of the time. This mynah is about three and a half years old and has started to pick up English phrases from the rest of the flock.

Suzanne Boyer of Julian, California, owns wild-caught adult Java Hill Mynahs that are also learning to talk. Boyer's first chick hatched in 1994- new hope and new bloodlines.

We had two wild-caught Greater Hill Mynahs, one of which learned about a dozen words, proving that adult birds can still learn to talk. These two birds were sent to Linda Scott for use in her hreeding program. Scott's pet female Java Hill Mynah, Georgia, has a wonderful vocabulary, part of which is: "Hello Daddy; Come here, boy; Georgie wants to talk to you (to the dog); Wowee; Charlie, whatcha doing; Where's Michael (Scott's husband); I'm a mynah bird, I am, I am; hello Boo Boo (to Scott); Do you want to buy a mynah bird?; I love you Daddy; Hello Sweetheart; Don't forget to lock the door; Oh Boy, Oh man; What's that for Georgia?" When a parrot yells, Georgia says, "That's terrible" or "That's horrible" and constantly adds to her repertoire. She speaks in Michael's voice and in Lynda's Boston accent.