- History and Culture
The Common myna or Indian myna Acridotheres tristis, locally known as Martin, belongs to the Sturnidae family of starlings and mynas which are native to Asia. Common mynas are an omnivorous, territorial and often opportunistic birds inhabiting open woodlands. The species was introduced to Mauritius around the mid 19th century. They were brought along by Indian immigrants as pets. They are a very resilient species which have adapted well to the urban environment. Common mynas or Martins can measure between 23 to 26 centimeters and are distinguished by their brown body, glossy black head, neck and upper chest and white undertail coverts, tail tip and wing linings are white. Their bill, legs and feet and a patch behind their eyes are yellow. Males and females are similar in size. They are also known for their unique vocalisations which include croaks, squawks, chirps, clicks, whistles and growls.
Common mynas is present in tropical and temperate regions, adapting to a range of climates and habitats - although it is believed they prefer warmer regions. Habitats include flood plains, grasslands, cultivated areas, plantations as well as desert oases and the foothills of various mountain ranges. Their population reaches the highest density in modified habitats near human establishments.
Common mynas mate for life, with pairs maintaining the same territory each year. They may breed year-round and build a cup shaped nest composed of dry grass, twigs and leaves. The nests are often constructed in tree hollows, building edges or thick vegetation. The female lays an average of 4 greenish-blue eggs which the pair incubates for 13 to 14 days, while the fledgling takes an average of 25 days. They may raise two broods per season. Both males and females care for the young.
The bird is an omnivorous and opportunistic animal, feeding on fruits, berries, grains, flower nectar, insects and spiders. Although they are predominantly ground feeders, they may also feed in flowering and fruiting trees. Common mynas tend to roost communally in trees. This communal roosting is believed to help synchronise social activities, avoid predators and exchange information about food sources, when prior to sleeping mynas can be heard vocalising in unison.
The species is listed as ‘Least Concern’ in the IUCN Red List of Species. The Common myna is a hollow-nesting species and tends to be more aggressive than other native hollow-nesting species, with both males and females being fiercely protective of their roosts. This has affected native species’ reproductive success and led to their displacement. The rate of their expanding range as well as their competition for nest sites and pillaging of fruit crops have caused them to be qualified by the IUCN as one of the world’s most invasive species. No specific management measure has been undertaken to control the population of mynas in Mauritius; rather, supportive management measures such as the provision of nesting boxes have been made for vulnerable and endangered bird species.
 Global Invasive Species Database (2018) Species profile: Acridotheres tristis. Downloaded from http://www.iucngisd.org/gisd/species.php?sc=108 on 11-01-2018.
Its genus name Acridotheres means "grasshopper hunter", tristes is akin to the French name of the bird, ‘Martin triste’.
2 Global Invasive Species Database (2018) Species profile: Acridotheres tristis. Downloaded from http://www.iucngisd.org/gisd/species.php?sc=108 on 11-01-2018.