The Indian Myna is one of the most invasive pest species in the world. In response to the threat it poses to native animals and biodiversity, the City of Casey has examined options for the control and management of the Indian Myna.
Council’s preferred option is a community-based approach. Community action supported by local government has proven to be the best approach to pest control programs, including control of the Indian Myna. It takes advantages of the strengths of both local government and community action groups.
Community led Indian Myna management programs
Council is seeking interest from residents who would be interested in being part of a community led program eradicating pest Indian Myna’s.
If you are interested and would like further information please register using the Indian Myna Management - Expression of Interest form.
Frequently asked questions
What do Indian Mynas look like?
The Common or Indian Myna can be identified by its yellow beak and eye patch, and brown body.
It is important to distinguish the Indian Myna from the protected Noisy Miner. The Noisy Miner is identified by its mostly grey body and black crown and cheeks. The bill is yellow, as are the legs and the naked skin behind the eye.
What is considered a pest?
In 2000, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature ranked the Indian Myna among the world’s 100 most invasive pest species.
The Indian Myna is native to tropical southern Asia, ranging from Iran to India and Sri Lanka. It has extended its range into most of south-east Asia, and been introduced to many parts of the world, including South Africa, North America, the Middle East, New Zealand and Eastern Australia.
The Indian Myna is now one of the most common birds in urban areas. As well as its adaptability to different habitats, its success can be attributed to other characteristics of the species including the fact that it congregates in flocks of five to 20 birds, so has strength in numbers. It also has a relatively long life-span and can raise two broods of young each year.
It is a territorial and highly aggressive bird that competes with and displaces native wildlife for food and habitat.
How did it get to Australia?
The Indian Myna was deliberately introduced to Australia. It was brought to Melbourne in 1862 with the expectation that it would control insect pests in market gardens. It failed to do this, but was nevertheless taken to North Queensland with the hope that it would control insect pests of sugar cane. Again it failed. This is probably why the Indian Myna is sometimes referred to as “the Cane Toad of the sky”.
What impact does it have on native birds and animals?
The Indian Myna poses a serious threat to biodiversity and the long-term survival of native wildlife.
It harasses native birds and small animals, eventually driving them from their nests, and throws out eggs and chicks from other birds’ nests in order to claim the space for itself.
Research based on 20 years of ornithological observations shows that wherever the Indian Myna establishes itself there is a significant fall in the number of native bird species. Small native animals such as sugar gliders can also be displaced if the Indian Myna drives them out of nesting tree hollows.
What impact does it have on humans in urban areas?
The Indian Myna adapts easily to new environments and to urban environments in particular. In fact, it prefers open habitats where the original indigenous tree cover has been removed or reduced by development. Like pigeons, Indian Mynas have been described as “rats with wings” because their large, feral populations create a public nuisance.
The Indian Myna tends to associate itself with human activity and reduce public and domestic amenity by its noise, droppings and tendency to create mess as it scavenges through litter for food and nesting material.
The Indian Myna can spread disease by walking over tables at outdoor cafes and eating areas as it scavenges for food. It also creates a potential health hazard to humans when its droppings enter the water supply.
When the Indian Myna nests in the roofs of houses, its accumulated droppings, lice and mites create a breeding ground for disease. If bird mites enter a house and are inhaled by humans, they can cause asthma and hay fever, and their bites can cause severe itching and rashes.
The Indian Myna has little fear of humans and, when it has nestlings, it swoops on people and pets. It is also known to harass pets in backyards and steal their food.
The Indian Myna is a raucous bird that fights ruthlessly with other birds for territory in the breeding season. At other times, hundreds of Indian Mynas can roost in a single tree or building, especially near a reliable food source. In these communal roosts they make a loud chattering noise well into the night and deposit a large volume of droppings.
The Indian Myna is a messy bird that makes large scrappy nests in roofs and eaves from dry grass, twigs, leaves and assorted rubbish, which can create a fire hazard.
What impact does it have on humans in rural areas?
The Indian Myna prefers cleared agricultural areas, especially open grasslands and cultivated paddocks. It is attracted to animal food, especially horse food, chicken pellets, goat and pig food, and fruit.
It will nest in out-buildings, house roofs, nest boxes, and tree hollows in paddocks and the edge of bushland, and poses a potential health risk in dairies and stables.
The Indian Myna can damage fruit and grain crops and thereby have a financial impact on farmers and market gardeners.
What can community members do?
Some things community members can do to help in the control of the Indian Myna include:
feeding pets indoors or not leaving pet food in the backyard that Indian Mynas can feed on
making public areas such as shopping centres, restaurants and cafes much less attractive to Indian Mynas by disposing of rubbish in bins
planting more shrubs in gardens to reduce the open areas that Indian Mynas prefer
planting local indigenous plants to encourage native species to your garden
refraining from artificially feeding birds if it attracts Indian Mynas
avoid planting tall thin trees with dense foliage such as Pencil Pines that flocks of Indian Mynas can use for roosting at night
checking your roof for any holes or entry points and blocking them to prevent entry by Indian Mynas (making sure that you do not accidentally imprison a possum, bat or other native inhabitant) and
keeping stock feed in rural areas secured away from Indian Mynas in sealed containers.
How do community action groups work?
The experience of other Councils in Victoria and New South Wales indicates that community trapping programs are the most effective method in reducing the numbers of Indian Mynas. This has been backed up by the Australian National University, which found that the method could substantially reduce Indian Myna numbers.
Currently in Australia, the control of the Indian Myna is primarily undertaken by community action groups. The Canberra Indian Myna Action Group (CIMAG) is one of the longest established and largest. Members work individually and collectively to implement an agreed strategy to tackle the Indian Myna problem in Canberra and the surrounding region.
CIMAG has more than 1,200 traps in the community. At the end of October 2011, CIMAG estimates that it had captured 43,200 Indian Mynas and, based on sightings, the Indian Myna had fallen from the third to the fourteenth most common bird seen in Canberra.
In Victoria, the Yarra Indian Myna Action Group (YIMAG) is the longest established and the largest. YIMAG is a community-based organisation that provides members with advice and support, and issues traps. It is currently the principal contact for Indian Myna control and management in Victoria. It is keen to support the development of other regional action groups.
As well as trapping and euthanasia, public education is an important component of both the CIAG’s and the YIMAG’s approach. The groups seek to increase public awareness of the serious environmental threat posed by the bird and the role individuals can play in reducing its access to food and nesting opportunities.
Isn’t an eradication program cruel?
The trapping and euthanising of Indian mynas must be carried out in accordance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008. The main components of this Act and associated regulations are described in the nationally endorsed and RSPCA approved standard operating procedures (SOPs): Trapping of pest birds (BIR002) and Methods of euthanasia (GEN001). The recommended method for the humane euthanasia of Indian Mynas is the injection of barbiturates by a veterinarian. Another method supported by the Victorian Government is cervical dislocation, when undertaken by a person who is trained and competent. To minimise stress on birds they should be taken to a vet to be euthanised immediately after capture. Any euthanised birds must be disposed of appropriately, according to local regulations for waste disposal.
There has been research into euthanasia by carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, however the Victorian Government and National Office of the RSPCA want further investigations before they can be considered humane methods of euthanasia.
Any eradication program supported by the City of Casey must ensure that trapped birds are not treated cruelly and the method of euthanasia is quick, painless, and stress‐free and conforms to RSPCA guidelines.
The Yarra Indian Myna Action Group (YIMAG) requires its members to sign an animal welfare protocol in order to participate in the trapping program. YIMAG uses the services of a local veterinary practice to euthanise trapped birds and provides advice to individuals capable of undertaking the task in accordance with RSPCA guidelines. More information visit the YIMAG’s website.
Yarra Indian Myna Action Group (YIMAG)
Canberra Indian Myna Action Group (CIMAG)
What is the most humane way of controlling Indian mynas?
Birds in Backyards
The Australian National University