Help varsity count those noisy Mynas

2013-10-16 00:00

LOVE them or hate them, Common Mynas seem to be here to stay.

City residents are being asked to take part in a census of sorts to help researchers track the population growth of the invader birds.

Professor Colleen Downs of the School of Life Sciences at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said the university is currently investigating aspects of the ecology and physiology of the Common Myna to get a better understanding of why they are successful as invaders.

“Among other things, we are interested in population numbers of Common Mynas in Pietermaritzburg, hence we are targeting their roost sites to do counts of birds roosting. We also are investigating the factors affecting roost selection by these birds.”

Downs and her team want to know where Mynas nest during the breeding season and need the public’s assistance in identifying as many roost and nest sites as possible in the greater Pietermaritzburg area.

Downs said Common Mynas are extending their populations in South Africa “at a relatively fast rate”.

“Today they are found almost everywhere in KwaZulu-Natal and their numbers continue to increase.”

Downs said although Common Mynas appear to favour warm climatic conditions like that of KZN, they have also spread to other provinces where it’s not so warm.

Mynas have now even been spotted in Cape Town where they previously did not occur. — Witness Reporter.

• Common Mynas (Acridotheres tristis) are alien invasive birds, native to south Asia.

• The birds were first introduced in South Africa when a group of birds reportedly managed to escape a pet trader in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal around 1902.

• Previously known as Indian Mynas, these highly sociable birds also show high association with humans and are often seen near or around shopping centres and malls, parks, and sports fields, feeding on available food scraps and insects.

• Some people find these noisy birds annoying with their loud chattering noise when they congregate to roost for the night.

• The Common Myna is easily identifiable with its bright yellow bill, eye skin, legs and feet. The body is reddish brown with a glossy black head, neck and upper breast.

If you reside in Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas and happen to know a place where Common Mynas roost or nest at night, be it a tree in your backyard, shopping centre, or nearby building, please contact Ntaki Senoge (e-mail: ntaki.senoge@gmail.com, cell: 083 455 9394) or Professor Downs at e-mail: downs@ukzn.ac.za, Tel. 031 260 5127(w); 082 920 2026 (cell) at the School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Scottsville.

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