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The Indian Mynah problem... What is being done?

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SeanO
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The Indian Mynah problem... What is being done?

Unread post by SeanO » Sun Sep 21, 2008 10:22 pm

Hello all.

As you can see, I am a 'noob' to this forum, but have registered to gauge opinion on a number of issues regarding problematic, invasive species, and primarily Indian Mynahs.

Let me say firstly, that I am a bird lover and conservationist. Let me also say up front that I am a hunter (ok... give it to me... ouch... eina... owwwww!)

My issue is that nothing is being done to control invasive bird species, with the effect that our indigenous species are suffering extreme stress and decline. I make particular reference to the Indian Mynah problem that has, over the last few years, become out of control in Johannesburg.

As an example, I put my own little 'microcosm' forward...

My Johannesburg garden.

Over the past 9 years, I had developed a strong, population of indigenous (birds) visitors (and residents) on my property, through providing the required habitat and food source.

These include the following (please excuse any naming errors)
1. 4 pairs of Red Billed Wood Hoopoos
2. Numerous Olive thrushes ('Flopwing' being the 'overlord')
3. A pair of Crested Barbets (there were 2 pairs)
4. 2 pairs of Black Collared Barbets
5. 1 pair of Burchells Coucals
6. Numerous Robins
7. 3 Hoopoos
8. A pair of Fiscal Shrikes
9. I estimate up to 4 individual Glossy Starlings
10. Flocks of Mousebirds
11. 1 Cockatiel (yes... someone's escaped pet)
12. Red faced finches and other seed eaters
13. at least 8 individual Grey Louries ('Mandela' being the 'king')
13. Various common species (sparrows, weavers, doves, rock pigeons and others)

Here's the kicker...

A short while back (1 season), a 'mob' of 6 - 10 Mynahs began frequenting the garden.

The Crested barbets were the first to go. Second were the Black collared barbets and then the Glossy Starlings. The Coucals became infrequent visitors, as did the Red Billed Wood Hoopoos and 'common' Hoopoos. Eventually, all I was left with were doves, sparrows, louries and... MYNAHS!

It did not take rocket science to realise what the problem was, and being a 'hunter', the unwelcome guests were (humanely, using a lead-based agent :) ) dispatched.

I now have (since February or so), my 'old' population back where they belong. The wonderful sound of the Coucals were music to my ears. The Barbets have all returned to view and I very seldom have any unwelcome 'Subcontinental Eastern Aviation' visitors. My little patch is largely avoided by 'them'.

My point, long-winded though it may be, is if my 'little patch' was impacted so drastically by the Mynahs, how are they affecting the greater indigenous populations of bird species in Johannesburg, and...

WHAT IS BEING DONE TO COMBAT HE SCOURGE??????

I notice that Australia is far further down the indigenous destruction line than we are at present?

Can anyone enlighten me?

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Yolandé Oelsen
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Re: The Indian Mynah problem... What is being done?

Unread post by Yolandé Oelsen » Sun Sep 21, 2008 10:49 pm

I have also noticed an increase in numbers of these birds in Krugersdorp. :evil:
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Re: The Indian Mynah problem... What is being done?

Unread post by Rusty Justy » Sun Sep 21, 2008 10:50 pm

Hi SeanO,

I'm so happy to see a debate on this topic starting to begin :dance:

As for your hunting Issuse---------I LOVE BILTONG!!! :thumbs_up: But don't appreciate It as a sport!!! Hahaha................EXCEPT!!!

With our Feathered Foe, the Indian Myna.....I Live in a Cluster Complex, riddled with cats...And up until recent years, had lists of over a Hundred species seen either in or from my Garden...Until the Myna's arrived.....I was lucky to even see a bird land in my garden, If they dared take on the mob of Dive Bombing Black feathers....Cats were not the issuse, and as you mentioned, It Is obvious who Is.

Shooting of the birds Is as I've read, Against the Law....And they have been accepted in the Suburbs as A South African Species, as the House Sparrow has been....But yet around the Kruger National Park, they are erradicated on sight, As to try protect the Indigenous species within....this obviously stating the fact that It is a Problem bird. So why Is it not dealt with in the Suburbs???

1-I believe they have gone against allowing shooting them, as a safety risk, as many little kids, as myself, would be walking around shooting lead pellets left right and off-centre :lol: ....(When I was 15, a few years ago, I was paid R10 by many of my neighbours, for every Myna I brought back, not breathing :) ) This was a great way to make a living I thought, and Once realising in Birds and Birding Mag that Is was illegal, I became poor again :cry:

I however, Believe there Is a need to lessen the numbers of Mynas drastically....And believe there Is a way........Mynas are communial and outright noisey roosters...I think that by using mist nets, one can catch plenty of these birds and dispose of them.

Many people I've spoken to say numbers are to High, and we are too late to solve the problem....Numbers are only going to increase, as they have no major threats, and are damn smart little creatures.......Able to spot an Air Rifle from Miles away :lol:

As far as I know, Faansie Peacock, the Author of the book Pipits of Southern Africa, Is doing or has done a study on the effects of the Myna on our Indigenous bird life :) anyone know more about this???

I personally think they need to go!!!
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Re: The Indian Mynah problem... What is being done?

Unread post by Imax » Sun Sep 21, 2008 11:08 pm

JustinO welcome to the forum :yaya:

I think most of suburban dwellers will have the same issues and feelings regarding the Mynahs! I was quite upset in finding them on the family farm in the SE Freestate, a place where they have not been found before.

I'll admit that i have also taken the odd pellet shot at them :naughty: , but it does not work. Pretty soon just more will be back. It’s like swatting flies.

Currently I only have a pair in my garden, and i have a large garden.
It has cost me to get it to this, but my plan worked so far.

The cost was the removal of all my nesting stumps. fortunately not at the cost of losing the species that use them. Although they no longer breed in my garden I still have 4 Black-collared barbets, 2 Crested barbets, 2 Hoopoe and about 8 Wood hoopoe.

In addition to this I blocked all places where they could nest leaving only one.

Effectively this only allows for one breeding pair, and due to unavailability of nesting sites, I do believe they keep others out. In addition to this I try to encourage 2 species that hate them and will actively chase them away - Glossy Starlings and African Hoopoes (yes that’s right! they give the Mynahs the most hell). Glossies you attract by providing diverse range of food from lards to fruit. Hoopoes by a well kept lawn and mulching in your borders with fallen leaves.

Thus far it’s working, for 2 years now I have had only the two, and they pretty much remain aloof.

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Re: The Indian Mynah problem... What is being done?

Unread post by SeanO » Fri Oct 03, 2008 5:36 pm

Well... mynahs breed twice a year, raising 2 chicks with a very high survival rate.

It then stands to reason, that if they outbreed, outcompete and overpopulate the nesting sites throughout the country, what (indigenous) bird life will remain?

Can someone answer this?

Something drastic needs to be done, I feel. The implications of apathy and non-action are very far-reaching and go beyond the 'live and let live' issues.
As with elephant culling, where overpopulation will be devastating to the environment, these birds need to be controlled, based on the same principals.

Man (the Dept of Environmental Affairs?) must become its natural, primary predator.

Does anyone disagree? Does anyone have contact information of someone willing to take action? Does anyone have any ideas how?

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Re: The Indian Mynah problem... What is being done?

Unread post by wildtuinman » Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:36 pm

They breed from Oct to Dec here in Gauteng. They lay an average of 3.9 eggs and sometimes up to as much as 6.
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Re: The Indian Mynah problem... What is being done?

Unread post by SeanO » Mon Oct 13, 2008 4:54 pm

Rusty Justy wrote::shock: Something needs to be done!!! ASAP!! They also have high success rates & not to many predators, so the population is really going to climb quickly!


What and how?


This is the question! Everyone suffers from apathy... especially when the 'problem' is not yet terminal.

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Re: The Indian Mynah problem... What is being done?

Unread post by Moegaai » Wed Nov 26, 2008 5:51 pm

I tried the "leaded" option once. Had limited success, despite considering myself a fairly crack shot. :sniper: The problem is that these guys are far more intelligent than we want them to be, so they quickly learn to watch out for funny, long black "sticks" pointing at them.

I even once climbed my tree in the middle of the night in the hope of catching them inside the nesting log they stole from my crested barbets that I now so miss. Amazingly they weren't in the nest, only a chick! I threw away the nest and the chick.

Won't netting help? Do they get caught in mist nest when people go ringing?

I wish bio-warfare technology would improve to the point where a DNA-specific pesticide can be developed!!!

I HATE THOSE HORRIBLE BIRDS

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Re: The Indian Mynah problem... What is being done?

Unread post by rusky » Thu Nov 27, 2008 3:00 am

Yolandé Oelsen wrote:Can anyone tell me: when does the Myna's chicks hatch? And what does a young myna look like - a photo would be nice?


Here's a couple. Not the best shots though. Basically the bird is brown with a yellow beak. (I'm sure the birders will have a more scientific description :wink: )
Image
Image

I am not convinced that humans should get involved with controlling the population of bird and animal species. We might think we know it all and know what's best but......history has proved us wrong many a time.
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Re: The Indian Mynah problem... What is being done?

Unread post by rusky » Thu Nov 27, 2008 7:56 am

Johan van Rensburg wrote:Simbamba, mama se kindjie... (ag shame!) Some peeps actually care for them! :shock: :twisted: :hmz:

Aren't we all God's creatures JvR :wink:
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Moegaai
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Re: The Indian Mynah problem... What is being done?

Unread post by Moegaai » Thu Nov 27, 2008 6:45 pm

rusky wrote:I am not convinced that humans should get involved with controlling the population of bird and animal species. We might think we know it all and know what's best but......history has proved us wrong many a time.


I agree with you completely rusky. BUT the fundamental issue is that we have a Myna problem BECAUSE humans got involved! Myna's were brought to SA as pets and later introduced to combat locust pests in sugar cane. They were also introduced to Mauritius for the very same reason, and there they have an even bigger Myna problem today.

So your statement is today really more about "sure, we messed up, but what do we do to rectify the problem".

By the way, another concern is actually the increase in feral Rose-ringed Parakeet populations, as they also have the habit of harrassing boring nesters like Barbets and Woodpeckers until they abandon their nests!

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Re: The Indian Mynah problem... What is being done?

Unread post by Moegaai » Fri Nov 28, 2008 8:41 am

So true Rusky. I often wish time travel was possible, so that we can go back in time and B*TCH-SLAP our forefathers for some of their stupid, short-sighted and ignorant actions!

But at the end of the day it brings us back to hindsight giving us 20/20 vision!

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Re: The Indian Mynah problem... What is being done?

Unread post by Scottm » Mon Dec 01, 2008 4:56 pm

The problem goes beyond the myna - look to any environment where the natural preditors are no longer present, for birds such as the Egyptian Geese on various Golf Estates, the ring-neck's and Senegal parrots that are clearly escapees, and a host of other birds that are not naturally occuring in various places around the country. :sniper: time to for "Kort Broek"van Skalkwyk to make a call?
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Re: The Indian Mynah problem... What is being done?

Unread post by Pjw » Mon Dec 01, 2008 6:11 pm

I had to stop feeding the indigenous birds in my garden because the Mynas were eating the food. Even so they have mutiplied to 8 (4 pairs) in my garden. They are very clever. If you try to shoot them with a pellet gun, they seem to know what it is and fly off immediatly. They are a real pest. I pull their nests down as soon as I find them, but the neighbours are not so dilligent. They now nest in the neighbours garden and feed in mine :twisted:
I wish there was some way of controlling them
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Re: The Indian Mynah problem... What is being done?

Unread post by fieryneck » Fri Dec 05, 2008 5:15 pm

My parents shoot any mynah they see on the farm. The workers get R10 for every mynah they kill. They very rarely see mynahs on the farm anymore and it is only a 1/2 hour from jo'burg. So maybe shooting them doesn't work but it definitely keeps them away!

I have a pair nesting in my balcony and I have an air gun, but I just don't have the heart to shoot them! :huh: even though I really HATE them! :evil:
Disposing of the nest is my next best bet, but I'm on the 3rd floor so access is a problem...

SeanO, I think we all feel your frustrations, but just don't have any concrete solutions. Hopefully, if more of us take action to prevent mynah nesting in our gardens/buildings we will be able to create a few sanctuaries for the indigenous species...
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