Indian Mynacontrol projecthandbookManaging the invasion ofIndian Mynas in Northern NSW
ContentsThe Indian Myna Control Project Pg 2The Problem with Indian Mynas Pg 3Identification Pg 4Behaviour and Habits Pg 6Managing the Invasion Pg 8Trapping Program Pg 9Trapping Procedures Pg 10Trapping & transporting Procedures Pg 12Euthanasing Procedures Pg 13Handling Native birds Pg 14Reporting & Monitoring Pg 16ContactsInside back coverWritten by Tien Pham and Joy van SonBased on the Handbook by the Macleay Valley Myna ProjectDesigned by Mira Design StudioPrinted June 2009
The Indian Myna Control ProjectThe problem with indian mynasMynas can often be seenon power lines and in opengrassy areas where theyhunt for insects & worms.Indian Mynas were introduced into Australiain the late 1860s to control insects inmarket gardens. Originally wide spread inSouth Asia, they have now established overmost of Eastern Australia and are spreadingto other parts of the country includingDarwin, Perth and Adelaide.They have become a huge problem incities and urban centres where they havebeen able to effectively adapt to a rangeof conditions and exploit a wide variety ofdifferent food types. Mynas also thrive inrural landscapes where agricultural activitiesprovide them with a range of habitats andfeeding options. They often congregatenear catlle farms and dairies where feedlotsare readily accessible. Racing stables andfarms with poultry coops are also primescavenging areas for Indian Mynas.In addition to being a nuisance in theselandscapes, their presence in everincreasingnumbers also threaten nativebirds and hollow-dwelling animalsin the wild.The Indian Myna Control Project provideseducation, coordination support and trapsto local communities in northern NSW tohelp combat the Indian Myna Bird invasion.This booklet will help you to:• Identify the Indian Myna• Understand the behaviour and habitsof Indian Mynas• Stop the invasion in your own backyard• Use Myna traps• Ensure humane handling of captured birds• Monitor and report bird feeding androost sitesYour local coordinator can help identifytrapping sites, train volunteers to use thetraps and organise the humane disposalof captured Indian Mynas.If you would like to report large numbersof Indian Mynas or roost locations contactyour Local Area Coordinator or Indian MynaAction Group.For more information on the Indian MynaControl Project in your local area refer tothe “Contacts” section at the back of theHandbook (Pg.16)Indian Mynas are a highly invasive species.They are opportunistic and eat almostanything. In cities and regional centresMynas congregate in areas where foodsources are regularly available usuallynear schools, shopping centres, parksand sport fields.The Mynas scavenge for food scraps nearpicnic areas and rubbish bins. They will alsotake pet food and bird seed from backyardsin residential areas. In rural areas they feedon stock feed, grain, pellets and compost.They foul on the backs of livestock andcontaminate feed bins. They also leavean unsightly mess in sheds and stableswhere they roost.Mynas can often be seen on power linesand in open grassy areas where they huntfor insects and worms. They congregatein large numbers in roost trees, making aloud chattering noise and leaving droppingseverywhere. Apart from the reducedaesthetics, clean-up costs can be quitesignificant. Mynas can also impact onhuman health, as they are carriers of birdmite and may harbour avian diseases suchas psittacosis and salmonellosis.Indian Mynas are messy birds and nestin tree hollows, palms and under roofs insheds and houses. They evict animals andbirds from their nests, attack chicks of otherspecies and breed in tree hollows renderingthem unusable by other wildlife. This is ofparticular concern, as tree hollows havebecome an increasingly limiting resourcefor many native animals.Mynas are well adapted to Australianconditions and breed quickly.
IdentificationIdentificationIndian Myna (Acridotheres tristus)Introduced pestnoisy miner (Manorina melanocephala)Native birdBlack headYellow beak& eye patchBlack patcharound eyesOlive tingenear wing edgeWhite wing patch(visible when flying)Yellow beak& eye patchPale grey breast& white bellyChocolatebrown bodyLong yellow legsFlesh coloured legs• Indian Mynas are predominantly chocolatebrown with a black head. In flight, whitewing patches are clearly visible.• Both birds have yellow beaks and a yellowpatch around their eyes.• The key difference between the two birdsis that the Indian Myna has a chocolatebrown coloured body, whilst the NoisyMiner is mottled grey and white.• Mynas spend much of their time foragingon the ground, where they can often beobserved moving about with a distinctive‘hoping gait’.• Noisy Miners are a protected species,and must be released if captured.• The native Noisy Miner is a honeyeaterwith a much more limited diet. It foragesfor nectar and small insects.• Apart from the physical similarities, bothbirds appear to share common behaviouraltraits which can often lead to incorrectidentification. The Noisy Miner alsobreeds rapidly, forming family groupswhich move around in search of food.They can exhibit aggressive and territorialbehaviour, chirping boisterously andworking together to chase otherbirds away.
Behaviour and HabitsThe Myna’s behaviour is seasonal. Theyform pairs for breeding from Septemberto March and go in search of a protectednesting site. They are prolific breeders andcan raise multiple clutches per year, with4-5 chicks per clutch. The fledgling periodlasts for 20-30 days and when the juvenilesare ready to fly they travel in small familygroups.After March, the Mynas join larger groupsand move to communal roosts where theycan number in the hundreds. They splitup in the mornings, going off in differentdirections to find food in small groups.By September, the Mynas form pairs andprepare to nest again.Hundreds of Mynas can roost in a singletree or building, especially near a regularfood source like a racecourse. When theMyna numbers get so great, food becomesscarce and a new colony is established.Indian Mynas are sedentary, non-migratorybirds, however resident populations displaysome local movement. They have beenobserved regularly moving between roostsites and foraging grounds, with additionalseasonal movements between knownhabitats.Rural areasMynas prefer open woodland and grasslandto forested areas. They particularly favouropen grazing country and freshly slashed orploughed fields. Mynas follow major roadsand arterial routes to spread into newareas, especially in places where thenatural landscape has been modified.Indian Mynas are commensal with humans.They thrive in areas of human settlement,often occupying disturbed habitats.They are attracted to animal food, especiallyhorse, goat and pig feed, chicken pellets,and fruit. They will also feed on animalmanure. Mynas will nest in out-buildings,house roofs, nest boxes and tree hollowsin paddocks and on the edge of bushland.Shooting scares them off but they willreturn if food is available.Residential areasMynas are well adapted to urban areaswhere feeding sites are plentiful. They areoften seen resting on power lines, prowlingschools, picnic areas and sports fieldsfor food scraps. They nest in gaps in citybuildings, petrol stations, air conditioners,and in house roofs and gutters. In backyardgardens Mynas invade nest boxes anddisplace native birds and animals. Theyfeed on nectar and seed put out to attractnative birds and particularly favour left-overpet food.The Indian Myna belongsto For the more Starling information family; ona the group Indian of Myna birds Control whichincludes Project, trap another plans invasive andspecies, project news, the Common please visi.Starling (Sturnusvulgaris) as well as theMetallic Starling (Aplonismetallica) which is nativeto tropical Queensland.Image – A typical Indian Myna roost site,composed of exotic trees.
managing the invasiontrapping programPlanting a wide range of localnative plant species in yourgarden will provide a diversityof habitats for native birds.Trapping alone will not keep the IndianMynas under control. Mynas thrive wherethere is easy access to food. You canreduce their available food source in thefollowing ways:• Leaving out seed and other food fornative birds will attract Indian Mynas andthey will quickly dominate your garden.Mynas will totally exclude all other birdsand in the long term you may be leftwith a garden full of Indian Mynas. If yousee Mynas at your bird feeder or in yourgarden refrain from putting out bird seeduntil Mynas have left the area.• Planting a wide range of local native plantspecies in your garden will provide adiversity of habitats for native birds. IndianMynas prefer foraging in areas with aclear understorey. A garden with reducedlawn containing a mixture of native trees,shrubs and herbs, especially with adense understorey will attract a variety ofbirdlife, without providing suitable habitatfor Mynas.• Feed pets inside, or if that is not possible,put pet food inside during the day.• Ensure chicken and duck pens are Mynaproof. Feed poultry inside a secured area.• When feeding goats or horses, it is bestto stay with the animals while they arefeeding and clean up spilled or leftoverpellets or grain. Also bag manure aroundstables and cover compost heaps.Mynas nest in tree hollows, roofs, exotictrees and the dead fronds of palms. Youcan reduce their available habitat in thefollowing ways:• Block holes in roofs and eaves.• Keep palms well trimmed. Avoid plantingclumps of exotic species such as CocosPalm (Cocos plumosa), Slash Pine (Pinuselliotii), Radiata Pine (Pinus radiata) andUmbrella Tree (Schefflera actinophylla),as these are all preferred Indian Mynaroosting trees.• Bird mite infestations can cause severeitching and rashes – if you have a Mynanest in your roof, gutters, a backyard treeor a bird box in your garden, you shoulddestroy it before the eggs hatch. Put thenest in a garbage bag in your garbage bin.• Wear gloves when handling Myna Birdsand their nests.The aim of trapping is to reduce the IndianMyna population, thereby reducing thethreat to native birds and animals.Reducing the existing Indian Mynapopulation by trapping requires thehumane handling of all captured birds.Everyone who participates in trappingmust adopt the animal welfare protocol.PeeGee’s Myna TrapTraps are designed to exploit Mynabehaviour. One example is The Pee Gee’sMyna Trap, a double-chambered wire trapwhich is suitable for use in backyards andgardens. It has proved to be successfulin Indian Myna trapping programsacross NSW.Talk to your local Project Coordinator forinformation on borrowing a trap, or toobtain the PeeGee’s Trap constructionplan. The step by step instructions areeasy to follow and the materials requiredto build your own trap are inexpensive.One-way Walk in TunnelsMynas walk about looking for food,therefore, all Myna traps have walk inone-way tunnels. Most traps have twotunnels but some experimental trapsare circular and have four or five tunnels.Image – One-way walk in tunnelVertical TunnelOnce inside the entrance chamber,the Mynas will go up the tunnel intothe holding chamber where there isno chance of escaping.Image –Vertical tunnelleading to holdingchamber
trapping procedurestrapping proceduresEnsure that the birds youare aiming to trap are IndianMynas or Starlings and notnative Noisy Miners.A Guide to using Pee GeesIndian Myna and CommonStarling Trap• No bird is to be treated cruelly orsubjected to harsh conditions: pleaseobserve the requirements of the NSWPrevention of Cruelty to Animals Act1979. Your Area Coordinator will informyou if there are requirements to sign ananimal welfare protocols agrreement.• Indian Mynas and Starlings are veryintelligent and wary birds. For yourtrapping to be successful you will needto follow the process included belowconsistently and methodically. You willneed patience and persistence for yourtrapping to be successful.• Ensure that the birds you are aiming totrap are Indian Mynas or Starlings and notnative Noisy Miners. Noisy Miners areprotected by law and it is illegal to trapthem without a licence.• This trap is intended to trap Indian Mynasand Starlings where they are known tocome down onto the ground and feed ona regular basis (at least 3 times a week). Ifyou have not yet had these birds feedingon the ground at your site, trapping withPee Gees trap is unlikely to be successful.• Do not approach the trap during daylighthours. Even if you can’t see the IndianMynas they can see you. If un-trappedIndian Mynas see you handling a trap,particularly once you have a trapped bird,they will avoid entering the trap.• Traps are on loan to volunteers and shouldnot be modified or changed in any way.• Only ever set up the trap when you areable to check it morning and evening.Ensure that the trap is stored away safelyat night, and any other time that it is notin use, as this will prevent accidentaltrapping of non-target animals. This willalso prevent vermin from eating your bait.• Keep pets and children away from thetrap as Indian Mynas and Starlings areextremely wary birds and are sensitiveto disturbance. Pets may also eat thebait intended for the birds.• If you trap any non-target species,you must release them through thedoor hatches.• Provide shade, food and fresh water in thelarger chamber (containment chamber) atall times for captured birds.• If Ibis start to hang around the trap, putyour trap away until they have beenabsent from the site for a couple of days.These birds can get a taste for the baitand stake out the trap even if they can’treach the bait and consequently ruin yourtrapping effort if not discouraged in thefirst instance.Trapping ProcessTo maximise trapping results make surethat you have completed one step beforemoving to the next. Duration of trapping canvary widely from site to site and can takeanywhere from a few days to a few weeks.Step 1 – Get your bait. You will need touse suitable bait. The bait that is mostattractive seems to be ‘Lucky Dog Minis –Minced Beef, Vegetable and Pasta Flavour’.Do not use grain-based foods (birdseed andbread etc) as this attracts non-target birdssuch as crested pigeons and parrots.Step 2 – Choose a spot at which toundertake trapping. This should be a sitethat you have seen the Indian Mynas comedown on to the ground. If possible, the siteshould be flat and open with short grass,however volunteers have had successtrapping in various other settings includingon the roof of carports, or on verandahs.Keep children and pets away from the trap.Step 3 – Restrict access to food sourcesas you need the birds to be hungry to lurethem into a trap. Make sure that any foodthe Mynas have been accessing at yourplace (scraps, pet food, chicken feed etc)is no longer available to them. If the birdsare feeding at a neighbours place, it may beworth approaching them and asking if theywould mind restricting available food for thetime in which you are trapping.Image – Volunteers at the NambuccaMen’s shed, building Pee Gee’s trap.10 11
trapping & Transporting proceduresEuthanasing proceduresThe Mynas are placed ina container or large plasticbag and are put to sleepwith a small dose of CO2.Step 4 – ‘Free-feed’ the birds at the siteyou have chosen. This is done in order toteach the Indian Mynas that there is a safeand regular source of food at this site. Placea flat white plate or plastic conatiner lid atyour site and keep this topped up with bait.Avoid going near the plate when there areMynas around. Other birds, such as magpiesand Pee Wees, may steal some of thebait, but do not chase them away as IndianMynas will learn to eat from the plate bywatching these less wary birds. Make sureyou actually sight the Mynas eatingthe bait off the plate before moving to thenext step.Step 5 – Put the trap next to the plate.By placing the trap near the plate of foodMynas will perceive the trap as being aharmless object.Step 6 – Bait the trap and take away the‘free-feeding’ plate. Place a small whiteplate inside the smaller (entrance) chamberof the trap. Put a handful of bait on theplate. Ensure the birds can see the feed inthe entrance chamber from the tunnel, butwill not be able to reach it until they haveentered the trap. Additionally, put a smallamount of bait inside and around the tunnelentrances of the small chamber to attract theMynas. Ensure that only small amounts ofbait are used in this manner as excess baitwill deter them from entering the trap.Once you have trapped IndianMynas or Starlings• If Mynas are to be gassed, captured birdscan be left in the holding chamber withthe entrance chamber removed for easeof transport. A towel should be placedover the holding chamber to keep birdscalm during transportation.• Alternatively the birds can be placed inside a pillow case with the end secured.The birds can be kept inside the pillowcase during the gasing process.• If needed, the birds can also betransferred to a smaller bird cage byplacing the holding chamber and cagealongside each other, with door openingsaligned. Birds can then be coaxed fromthe chamber to the cage, without theneed for direct handling of birds.• Use gloves when handling live or deadbirds as wild birds may carry disease.When removing the birds through the trapdoor be careful of the sharp edges. Mynasare easy birds to handle. If you pin thewings to their bodies and grasp firmlythey will not peck or fight.• Clean the trap. You may need to hose itdown or, if badly fouled, use some vinegarand scrub it down. Indian Mynas willnot enter a dirty or smelly trap. Relocatethe trap if the area becomes soiled fromcaptured birds. They like to be cleanand will avoid being around their ownexcrement.Euthanasing proceduresThe aim of euthanasia is to minimise oreliminate stress the birds will experienceprior to becoming unconscious. Trapoperators must be willing to acceptthat humane killing of trapped birds isan important responsibility. Your areacoordinator can assist you to arrange forMynas to be humanely euthanased byexperienced volunteers.The preferred options for euthanasingMynas are:• Cervical dislocation (breaking neck)If you use cervical dislocation (breakingneck) or decapitation, you must be ableto kill the Myna instantly.• Inhalation of carbon dioxide (CO2)Euthanasia of Mynas by carbon dioxide(CO2) must be arranged beforehand withyour Area Coordinator. The birds must bedelivered for gassing in a sealed hessianbag, or in the covered holding cage ofthe trap.The Mynas are placed in a container andput to sleep with a small dose of CO2.The container is sealed for three minutesto retain the gas and the Mynas diequickly without stress.The NSW Department of PrimaryIndustries does not consider it humane toeuthanase birds with exhaust gas from acar. This can vary in other states, so it isbest to check you local rules.• Injection of a barbiturateThis is least preferred out of the threerecommended methods, as it requiresthe expertise of a qualified vet, and canbe expensive.Wrap dead Mynas in newspaper andplace them in your household garbagebin or dispose of them in your compostto decompose.12 13
handling native birdsHandling of Native BirdsWhilst traps are designed specifically totarget Indian Mynas, some native birdsmay also be caught.In the past, volunteers have observed thatsome of the most common non-targetnative species trapped are Pee Wees(Grallina cyanoleuca) and Satin Bower birds(Ptilonorhynchus violaceus). If these birdsare common in your area try setting thetrap with a live Myna bird which will helpto deter native birds, whilst attracting otherIndian Mynas to the trap. Your local AreaCoordinator can also advise on other waysto minimise trapping native birds.Ensure the trap’s holding chamber containsplenty of food and clean water for alltrapped birds. If you find a native bird in thetrap, open the appropriate door provided torelease it; do not handle native birds unlessthey are injured. If they are dehydrated orlethargic, keep them in a box in a dark andquiet place to allow them to recover. Do notforce food or water into the beak ofan injured or stressed bird.Volunteers in the past have alsoencountered juvenile natives such asCrimson Rosella chicks, which have beenevicted from their nest hollows by IndianMynas. If chicks are still alive, carefullyplace them in a cardboard box lined withleaf litter or cloth and place the box in adark, quiet spot. If chicks are unfeathered,provide immediate warmth by placing ahot water bottle wrapped in a towel insidethe box. Immediately contact your nearestwildlife rescue organisation forfurther care instructions.Refer to the “Contacts” list in the backof the Handbook for your nearest wildliferescue/ welfare organisation.Noisy Miners are usedby other bird species as“sentries”. They have adistinctive alarm call toindicate when a bird ofprey is nearby. When thealarm call is heard, otherbirds will leave the area.14 15
Reporting & MonitoringReporting and monitoring of Indian Mynasenables us to track where the birds are andhelps us to gather information about theeffectiveness of trapping.ReportingRoost SitesReport property locations, type of tree orbuilding the Mynas occupy and estimatethe size of the colony. The roost site willbe mapped and monitored. In some areas,strategic shooting programs to controlIndian Mynas at their nesting and roostsites have been implemented. Speakto your Local Area Coordinator for moreinformation.Feeding sitesReport property location, number of Mynasseen regularly, and preferred food source.MonitoringVolunteers can keep track of a particularpopulation by doing regular Myna countsat roost sites and observing details onaspects such as communal behaviour andflock movements. Speak to your Local Areacoordinator about being an active volunteerin the reporting and monitoring process.TrappingWe need feedback from all trappers.Please contact your Area Coordinatorfor data record sheets, and for moreinformation on data recording procedures.Any trapping issues or unusual IndianMyna behaviour should also be reported.16
ContactsIndian Myna Control ProjectLocal Area CoordinatorTien PhamBellingen, Nambucca & Coffs HarbourLocal Government AreasTelephone: 0438 218 261IngridPamela GrayTelephone: (02) 6670 2778Supporting Councilsand OrganisationsMacquarie - Hastings CouncilTelephone: (02) 6581 8111Bellingen Shire CouncilTelephone: (02) 6655 7300Nambucca Shire CouncilTelephone: (02) 6568 2555Coffs Harbour City CouncilTelephone: (02) 6648 4000Hastings LandcareTelephone: (02) 6586 4465Nambucca Valley LandcareTelephone: (02) 6564 7838Bellingen LandcareTelephone: (02) 6655 0588Coffs Harbour Regional LandcareTelephone: (02) 6651 1308Macleay Landcare NetworkTelephone: (02) 6562 2076Taree CouncilTelephone: (02) 6592 5399F.A.W.N.A (South of Nambucca)Hotline (02) 6581 4141W.I.R.E.S (North of Nambucca)Coffs Harbour branchTelephone: (02) 6652 7119National Parks and Wildlife ServiceMid North CoastRegional Office (Port Macquarie)Telephone: (02) 6586 8300WebsitesIndian Myna Control Projectwww.indianmyna.orgBirds in Backyardswww.birdsinbackyards.netCanberra Indian Myna Action Groupwww.indianmynaaction.org.auCentral Coast Indian Myna Action Groupwww.ccimag.asn.auMid North Coast Indian Myna Project(Bellingen, Nambucca & Coffs Harbour)www.indianmynaproject.com.auPhoto creditsThankyou to Joanne Irelandfor the image of the NativeNoisy Miner on page 15Thankyou to Jacqui Stol for theimages of the Indian Mynas inPee Gee’s trap on page 10 &13
Want to Know More?Call the Mid North Coast Indian MynaHotline for more information on thetrapping program or to report sightingsof large numbers of Myna birds.HOTLINE0438 218 261Email: email@example.comWebsite: www.indianmynaproject.com.au
Funded by the NSW Environmental Trustand supported by the following organisations:LANDCARENAMBUCCA VALLEY