The Flying Cane Toad

On my daily dog walks over the past year, I have been noticing a pair of Common (also known as Indian) Mynas, strutting about a field. I shoo them away or toss sticks at them. They now fly off when they see me coming. I have never liked these noisy, assertive, sly birds, but consoled myself with the notion that the raucous Australian parrots and magpies would sort them out in quick time.

Just the other day, I counted how many birds were in a different flock of these Mynas. They roost in a neighbour’s tree and sit on another neighbour’s roof ridge.

I was staggered to count twenty-two birds! Their numbers had grown over a period of about a year, from a pair I’d seen fly by on occasion. I shoo them away too, but now they don’t fly very far.

Then it struck me that I hadn’t seen any pale headed Rosellas or King parrots in my garden recently and the Lewin’s Honeyeaters were not as active. Even the Noisy Friar and the Lorikiets were fewer and quieter.

So I did some research.

Mynas have been listed among 100 of the world’s worst invasive species by the World Conservation Union. In Australia, Common Mynas are considered to threaten native biodiversity due to their territorial behaviours and nest cavity competition. 

They are now widespread throughout eastern Australia.

Despite their identification as a threat, no particular legislative responsibility for myna control/management exists in states where mynas are already established, such as QLD, NSW and VIC. Conversely, import and keeping of common mynas is prohibited and they are ‘declared’ in states/territories where common mynas have not established yet, such as NT, SA, TAS and WA. 

Indian Mynas are very aggressive and intelligent, and known to evict native birds (including parrots, kookaburras and peewees) from their nests, dumping out their eggs and chasing them from their roosting areas. Other native species such as sugar gliders which depend on tree hollows for survival are also threatened.

The Indian myna can lay six eggs at a time, and they can breed three times in a breeding season, so that’s the potential for over 13000 birds in 5 years per female bird. Whereas the native rosella will lay four or five eggs and they’ll only raise two or three chicks a year.

A scan of the Biodiversity Act of 2014 shows that Mynas are declared a pest but fobs off responsibility to local government.

My local government’s Subordinate Local Law No. 3 lists 3 categories of grass and a shrub as pests – that’s all!

Clearly we cannot expect our government to do everything for us. But it needs to consider and initiate actions which address such problems.

Surely it would be easy to mobilise local environmental care committees who could be a ground force who could identify problems and take action under supervision of course. It seems to work for tree planting and Koala care – why not spread the mantle of care wider?

*Feature Photo by Vivek Doshi on Unsplash