Lee Richardson Zoo
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Bali Mynah

AKA  Rothschild’s mynah, Rothschild’s grackle, or Rothschild’s starling

Order:  Passeriformes – song birds

Family:  Sturnidae – starlings and mynahs

Scientific Name:  Leucopsar rothschildi

 

Bali mynahDescription:  Bali mynahs are thought by many to be the most attractive of the mynahs.  Their plumage is snowy white with black tips on the tail and wing feathers.  They have long, slender feathers on the nape and crown that form a crest.  There is a patch of bare bright-blue skin around each eye.  The bill is gray with a yellow tip.  Females are slightly smaller than males, and have smaller crests.  Juveniles look similar to adults, but they may be tinged with gray or cinnamon.  Their average length is 8 ½ inches.


RangeHome Range:  Northwest portion of the island
of Bali in Indonesia

 

Habitat Type:  Open woodland and scrub forests

Reproduction:  Breeding begins with the beginning of the rainy season (December-April).  Each breeding pair establishes a territory, and the male displays by singing, and raising and lowering his crest.  Bali mynahs nest in natural holes in trees or old woodpecker holes, and sometimes use nestboxes.  Both partners help to build the nest out of twigs, grass, and feathers.  The female lays 3-5 (usually 3) small blue eggs.  She incubates the eggs for 14 days, and the male might also help.  After hatching, both parents care for the young.  The young fledge when they are 21-24 days old, and the parents chase them out of the territory shortly afterwards.  After leaving their parents’ territory, the young join juvenile flocks, which are usually guided by unpaired adults.  They reproduce when they are 2 years old.  Females can reproduce until they are 11-12 years old, and males can reproduce until age 16-17.  Wild pairs can produce up to 3 clutches during a breeding season.  Only one hatchling per clutch is likely to survive until fledging, but in a good year a pair might fledge 3-5 young.

 

Diet in the Wild:  Seeds, fruit, insects and other invertebrates, and small vertebrates

 

Diet in the Zoo:  Soft-billed bird diet and certain fruits.  High iron levels are a common health problem for captive Bali mynahs, so any foods that are high in iron or citric acid (which increases the birds’ iron absorption) are avoided.

 

General Information:  The Bali mynah is the only vertebrate that is endemic to the island of Bali.  They spend most of their time in the treetops, but will come to the ground to find food or water, or to bathe.  They are gregarious when not breeding.  They feed in pairs or in a group, with one bird keeping watch for danger.  In the evening, they gather in emergent trees, and then roost lower in the canopy, where the foliage is thicker.  They communicate with loud harsh whistles and are excellent mimics.  Their beauty and the males’ bubbling song make them popular pets in Indonesia.  The word “mynah” comes from a Sanskrit word that means “joyful” or “it bubbles”.

 

Conservation Status:  This species is listed by IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered, CITES Appendix l, and has been legally protected in Indonesia since 1970.  It is thought that more than 1,000 Bali mynahs might have lived on the island at one time, but habitat destruction and capture for the pet trade have reduced the species to a single small population.  In Bali, these birds are very popular as caged birds due to their beauty and song.  Wealthy individuals, high ranking government officials, etc. keep the birds in small bamboo cages as a status symbol.  At one time there was an amnesty program encouraging these individuals keeping the birds illegally, to trade them in for captive bred birds with less genetic value.  It did help improve the quality of the captive breeding programs. 
     Bali’s also suffer severe competition from introduced species of starlings who are more aggressive, and take over nesting sites.  The most recent reports estimate that there are probably only 5 or 6 birds left in the wild (as of April, 2001). 
     Bali mynahs are the focus of international conservation efforts, emphasizing prevention of poaching, protection and improvement of habitat, and reintroduction of captive-bred birds.  They breed well in captivity.  The captive population now includes hundreds of birds, most of which are managed by an SSP.  Thirty-six captive-bred birds have been released into the wild in the past, but poaching and habitat problems made this approach unsuccessful.  The wild population is now living in a preserve, Tama National Bali Barite.  Captive Bred individuals have been introduced on Nusa Penida island (apparently not part of the native range).  The population appears to have adapted to the island and is breeding, 65 adults and 62 young counted in 2009. About 1,000 are believed to survive in captivity.  It is hoped that better protection of the preserve will make future reintroduction efforts more successful.  The Lee Richardson Zoo has successfully reproduced this species.

 

Predators:  Snakes, birds of prey, and maybe monitor lizards and macaques

 

Resources
BirdLife International (2011) Species factsheet: Leucopsar rothschildi. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 01/06/2011.

Encyclopaedia of Aviculture Vol. 3.  1977.  A. Rutgers and K.A. Norris.  Blandford Press, Poole.  pp. 213-214.

A Field Guide to the Birds of Borneo, Sumatra, Java, and Bali.  1993.  J. MacKinnon and K. Phillipps.  Oxford University Press, Oxford.  p.375.

Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia Ed. 2 Vol. 11.  2002.  M.Hutchins, J.A. Jackson, W.J. Bock, and D. Olendorf.  Gale Group, Farmington Hills, MI.  pp. 407-411, 420.

North American Regional Studbook for the Bali Mynah.  Oct. 2001.  S.D. Thompson and E. Brown.  Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago.  pp. 7-12.