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Jonathan Jones: Mynas or Miners?

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

It’s important to know the difference between a native noisy miner (Manorina melanocephala) and the introduced common myna (Acridotheres tristis).

The native noisy miner is a small but confident bird. Its body is mostly grey, with a black head and cheeks, and yellow bill, legs and skin around the eye. Noisy miners live in family groups along eastern Australia and are always calling to each other, hence their name. They feed on nectar, fruits and insects and are an important part of the ecosystem.

Common mynas were first introduced to Australia in the 1880s in the sugarcane fields of Queensland to deal with insect pests. They are brown with a black head, and have a yellow bill, legs and skin around the eyes like the noisy miner. Common mynas live in groups and are known to be highly aggressive. It’s important to know the difference between these two species, as the common myna is listed as one of the most impacting feral animals in Australia, causing enormous harm. They are known to attack, chase out and destroy native birds and small tree-dwelling marsupials such as feathertail gliders. Common mynas proliferate with urbanisation, but by making sure we look after our rubbish and don’t provide nesting opportunities like holes, cracks and crevices in your home and buildings, we can help control their numbers.

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Each week Jonathan Jones shares stories of native Australian birds, touching on their importance, the issues they face and what we can learn from them. Jones' upcoming artwork for the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art requires thousands of native Australian bird feathers, which he needs your help to find.


Image: Native noisy miner. Photo via Birdlife Australia

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