The common hill myna, a bird known for its ability to imitate sounds and voices

This popular talking bird is a curious and friendly bird from South East Asia

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By Alex

common hill myna

The common hill myna is a curious and sociable animal. This talking bird is known for its great mimicry ability. Although it is popular cage bird, it lives mainly in the wild, in forests located in the hills of South East Asia.

The common hill myna (scientific name Gracula religiosa) is a bird characterized by a glossy, black coat and yellow patches on either side of its head and nape. The most notable trait of this bird is the ability to vocalize.

Also known as mynah (or hill myna or myna bird), it is a member of the starling family (Sturnidae) order Passeriformes. This bird originally comes from tropical Asian areas, such as Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Pakistan, Indonesia, India, and Malaysia. The various species may migrate in search of warmth while avoiding the more desert areas. In fact, specimens of this species love green areas. In the wild, these blackbirds live in flocks and keep in touch by higher or lower whistles.

Among the 8 different subspecies, some sedentary and others migratory can be recognized. The latter tend to move to the tropics only during winter periods.

Common hill myna appearance

This bird has bright black plumage and a large head size. The tail is short while the beak is stout. On either side of the head are bright yellow patches of naked skin and fleshy wattles. The shape and size of the yellow wattles on the nape and under the eye differ depending on the subspecies on mynah.

The yellow color of the caruncules and beak is the most distinctive physical trait of these birds and brightens their uniform black plumage. Sexes are very similar and juveniles have a duller bill.

This bird is onnivorous but tends to prefer mostly fleshy fruits. Sometimes it may also feed on seeds and insects.

The common hill myna has 8 recognized subspecies:

  • G. r. religiosa – the eastern hill myna; the Greater Sundas (except Sulawesi) and Peninsular Malaysia
  • G. r. andamanensis Beavan 1867 – the Andaman hill myna; the Andaman Islands, the central (Nancowry) group of the Nicobar Islands
  • G. r. batuensis – the Batu hill myna; the Batu and Mentawai Islands
  • G. r. halibrecta Oberholser 1926 – the Great Nicobar hill myna; Great Nicobar, Little Nicobar and adjacent islets in the Nicobar Islands; doubtfully distinct from G. r. andamanensis
  • G. r. intermedia –  northwestern Indochina, northeastern India and southern China
  • G. r. palawanensis – the Palawan hill myna; Palawan in the Philippines
  • G. r. peninsularis – the Bastar hill mynah; central India (the state bird of Chhattisgarh, India)
  • G. r. venerata – the Tenggara hill myna; the western Lesser Sundas

Common hill myna character

The common hill myna is a smart, very curious and sociable bird. Despite its appearance and the black color of its plumage, it tends to be lively and even funny due to its imitative abilities. Specimens raised in captivity tend to exhibit excellent ability to imitate sounds and voices. Some are able to perfectly reproduce the human voice.

By devoting time and patience to practice, these animals are quickly able to learn and replicate sounds. Although entertaining, this bird is likely to cause a disturbance by its very high-pitched whistles.

As with parrots, it is advisable to choose this bird only if it can be guaranteed a good number of hours in your company. Also, make sure that it will not be a nuisance to neighbors.

Caring of common hill myna

Given the state of captivity to which it is forced, it is essential to ensure that the bird has the best possible living conditions. Indeed, it must be considered that in the wild these birds inhabit forests and have great space and freedom at their disposal. With respect to their ethological needs, it is necessary to opt for a very large and comfortable cage.

Inside the aviary it is preferable to place branches or small trees that reproduce some characteristics of the original habitat. Newspapers or other papers should be placed on the bottom and replaced daily to ensure cleanliness.

Common hill mynas generally appreciate good exposure to sunlight and need the constant presence of fresh water. The location of the cage within the house is an equally significant aspect of this bird’s well-being.

Since it loves company, it is good to place it in a fairly busy area where it can enjoy the presence of its human companions.

common hill myna
This bird can reproduce a wide range of sounds, including the human voice.

How long do common hill mynas live?

Domestic specimens of myna have a good life expectancy. These long-lived companions can, in fact, live up to 15-20 years if raised in good conditions. In some rare cases it can approach 30 years of age. In the wild, however, they usually do not exceed 10 years. To ensure a long life for these birds, it is important to ensure a properly balanced diet.

Avoiding isolating the animal and providing it with space appropriate to its ethological needs is necessary to promote its full well-being.

Myna bird prices

Those who want to adopt these birds often have to contact breeders directly. Alternatively, they can be sold by importers who are able to certify the sale of the birds according to statutory regulations. Prices may vary significantly depending on the subspecies of myna and the location.

On the other hand, it is good to take into account how this bird in the wild is extremely independent and accustomed to very large and wild environments. Reduction to captivity is, therefore, still a drastic deprivation of its freedom and well-being.

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