Did you know that Bali mynahs, on exhibit on the Minnesota Zoo’s Tropics Trail, are one of the most critically endangered species of birds in the world?

Bali mynahs, striking members of the starling family, are pure white except for the black tips on their wings and tails and featherless, sky blue eye patches. Males and females look alike, each with an elegant feather crest on their head.

Bali mynahs eat fruit, berries, and seeds. They also eat a variety of insects, especially during the rainy season. At the Minnesota Zoo, they eat fresh fruit, crickets, and mealworms. Easily seen by predators, mynahs prefer the safety of tree tops near the forest’s edge, only coming down to the ground to drink. They congregate in flocks of 20-40 individuals except when they pair off to mate: two to four chicks hatch after two weeks. Males and females take turns sitting on eggs and caring for young.

Because they’ve fallen prey to deforestation and poaching, Bali mynahs are nearly extinct in the wild. Attempts at reintroduction failed when poachers stole birds out of pre-release pens. Since opening in 1978, the Minnesota Zoo has successfully raised and exhibited them – in fact, the Zoo has been the single most successful institution for breeding Bali mynahs since the beginning of the AZA’s Bali Mynah Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding program.

Are you fascinated with birds, and want to get a much closer look? Swoop on in during one of the Zoo’s “Backstage with Birds” programs (advance registration required).