A case for the commoners: The Indian Myna

I had for too long kept myself from falling in love with Indian Mynas. Perhaps, I am not just a discriminatory birder. I am an obtuse one too. I hadn’t written about them until recently despite how often I spot them.

Common Mynas are found everywhere in my city. Unlike the House Sparrows, they have adapted to urban environments; so much that they have gained a reputation as one of the world’s most invasive species.

I have also seen these birds across the hills of southern India. Flocks of majestic Southern Hill Mynas are common sights as are Jungle Mynas, my pocket-sized sweethearts.

They are extremely territorial birds. Often I have seen them pick up fights with Drongos, Parakeets, and Barbets for trespassing through their hallowed grounds. It’s a behavioural trait that they must have picked up from us. With human beings for next-door neighbours, it had probably occurred to them, a long time ago, that self-preservation triumphs peace, love, and harmony.

They are loud with their calls. But they aren’t noisy. Just a cacophony of alarm clock melodies. They are great at mimicry too, often fooling birders by impersonating other species of birds.

Last year, I had travelled to Masinagudi via the bird-friendly Bangalore-Mysore road. I took a break near the sunflower fields of Gudulpet. I was mesmerized by the way the lemon-skinned ballerinas danced with the wind. And I chanced upon a Common Myna perched on a giant sunflower.

She was either feeding on insects or whispering secrets to the petals.

And it hit me like a ton of bird poop. I had been blind to how beautiful she was. I had seen her so often that I had taken the beauty in her for granted.

Common Mynah, Bangalore-Mysore Road

But never again.

Quoth this birder, “nevermore”.

If I had to make
a case for this commoner,
I would start with presenting
her dark copper feathers
as exhibit A and B,
argue over the white streaks
in the underside of her wings,
and end with a closing argument
about the freshly-squeezed sun juice
in-between her cheeks.

(Photographs: Chennai, Vedanthangal, Gudulpet, Munnar)

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30 comments

  1. Call me biased but I think we’ll have to agree to disagree here. Perhaps it’s because of the complete overinflux of white-vented mynahs in Singapore (like, literally an overinflux – THERE ARE NO CROWS) but I can’t love mynahs. Hill mynahs, maybe. Starlings, yes. But not the white-vented mynah. Not that… rat on wings. Still, maybe I’ll have a change of heart one day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hehe it’s alright, GB. I get the annoyance. It’s like how I feel about house crows and blue rock pigeons. Maybe we ll have a change of hearts. If not, plenty of others, commoners or otherwise, for the loving.

      Like

  2. First, a comment on the poem. It made me happy! Second, taking beauty for granted: Isn’t that always the way? Something we see every day becomes, well, everyday. I bet if you were away from your pretty mynahs for a week or two they’d be positively dazzling on your return!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mynah as an invasive specie. Ha!! I miss them as alarm clocks during my short stint in SE Asia. Just watched old video I took of them in the 90’s. My kids thought them to be the coolest way to wake up every morning!

    Liked by 1 person

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