Landcarers, community members flock to stop Myna havoc in Clarence Valley
Indian Mynas, also known as Common Mynas, continue to create havoc for native birds and mammals across much of Australia, including in Grafton and surrounding areas of the Clarence Valley.
That’s why Clarence Landcare members and people in the local community have undertaken a trapping program to stop the pesky, aggressive species from dominating the landscape.
Often described as “flying rats,” or the “cane toads of the sky,” Common Mynas are listed among the top 100 most invasive species in the world by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Common Mynas have dark brown to black heads with distinctive yellow beaks, eye patches and legs. They are often mistaken with the smaller grey Noisy Miner, which is native to Australia.
In the 1860s, Common Mynas were deliberately introduced in Melbourne to reduce insects in market gardens. However, like many other introduced species, they thrived in their new environment and spread rapidly around the country with devastating effects on native wildlife.
It’s the decline of native birds in backyards that spurs many people on to help reduce their numbers.
In 2020, Clarence Landcare received a $50,000 grant from the Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants Program, to humanely trap and euthanise scores of the birds.
This funding went to hire three casual employees to provide traps and support to property owners in the Grafton area. The Landcare staff provide guidance to landholders in how to use the traps, education in the correct identification of the Common Myna bird, and tips on discouraging the birds from returning.
To date, we are supporting 56 trappers on their private properties,Clarence Landcare Project Coordinator, Laura Noble.
The landcarers have also purchased and converted three large aviary traps to take to farms, piggeries and dairies where flocks of Common Mynas are known to gather.
Common Mynas thrive everywhere. They can often be seen in the cities, gobbling pet food in left-out dishes or pecking through compost bins for scraps. But they also do well in rural environments, congregating near cattle farms, piggeries and dairies to take advantage of accessible feedlots. Stables and yards while poultry coops are also prime scavenging areas for the species.
During nesting time, Common Mynas are prolific breeders and will take over the local area, including native bird nests and tree hollows, pushing out and killing other species in the hunt for habitat and food sources – That’s a big reason why Clarence Landcare is focused on controlling these birds.
“Trapping is the best way to reduce the impact of these birds. While no one likes the idea of putting birds down, it can be done ethically and humanely,” said Laura.
Wildlife was impacted significantly when 50 per cent of the Clarence Catchment was burned out during the 2019-20 bushfires. Particularly hard -it was habitat, especially trees with nesting hollows, as old growth trees can take over 100 years to become hollow-bearing.
“Controlling Myna birds will benefit over 63 species that depend on hollows, including threatened native birds such as masked owls, barking owls and glossy black cockatoos. But it goes further than birds. Many other animals such as sugar gliders, snakes, frogs, micro bats and possums also use hollows,” said Laura. Laura noted that when numbers of Common Myna birds are reduced in an area, they don’t readily come back. “Somehow the birds who are left know that an area is no longer safe for them and they don’t hang around. It is a testament to their intelligence,” she said.
Funded by the Australian Government’s Bushfire Recovery Program for Wildlife and their Habitat, the $14 million Landcare Led Bushfire Recovery Grants are supporting 111 diverse projects in regions affected by the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20.