Bastar Hill Myna
Chhattisgarh, one of India’s most biodiverse states, is home to varied wildlife.
Photo: PRS Negi.
You might be familiar with Common Mynas – little black, lively birds with black-brown feathered bodies, bright yellow beaks and equally yellow patches of skin under their eyes. They go cheep-cheep-cheep and make a crow-like caw-caw-caw in-between the cheeps. But, we are talking of a very special myna here, known as the Bastar Hill Myna, which belongs to the same family Sturnidae as the Common Myna but is slightly different in its appearance, calls and habitats. Especially calls. It is a master mimic and can copy a wide range of sounds, calls, and whistles, that can be very human like too, if it chooses to imitate us! They tend to mimic everyday sounds, rather than the calls of other birds in the wild.
The Bastar Hill Myna is the state bird of Chhattisgarh. A couple of years ago its numbers had drastically reduced. It is because of its mimicking ability and striking appearance that the bird is captured for the pet trade in large numbers.
The Bastar Hill Myna grows up to 29 cm., which is slightly bigger than the Common Myna. It is covered in jet-black feathers and in a striking contrast, has bright yellow wattles or patches of naked skin on the sides and nape of its head. It has a stark orange beak and yellow feet. The Bastar Hill Myna is found only in the central region of India, while sub species of the Hill Myna are native to other parts of India, Sri Lanka, parts of China and South and Southeast Asia. They were once found in Bangladesh, but are now believed to have become locally extinct due to habitat destruction and capture for the pet trade.
First appeared in: Sanctuary Asia, Vol. XXXVI, No. 7, July 2016.