Bali mynas are one of the most critically endangered birds in the world. These striking members of the starling family are mostly white, with black bands on the wings and tail, and a featherless, blue patch around the eyes. Males and females look alike, each with an elegant feather crest on the head.
What They Eat
Bali mynas are omnivores. They eat seeds, fruit, small reptiles and insects such as caterpillars, ants, grasshoppers and dragonflies.
Where They Live
Bali mynas are native only to the northwest coast of the island of Bali in Indonesia. They inhabit open, grassy woodlands, and tend to avoid dense forest.
What They Do
Historically, Bali mynas gathered in flocks of 20-40 birds. During the breeding season, birds pair off to mate. Nests are often built in old woodpecker holes or in natural tree cavities. Two weeks after eggs are laid, two or three chicks hatch. Both parents care for eggs and young.
How They’re Doing
Listed as “critically endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the population is declining. The wild population is maintained by the release of captive-bred birds, but there is evidence of wild birds breeding. The greatest threats to Bali mynas are unsustainable, illegal capture for the pet trade and habitat loss.
- Scientists first discovered the Bali myna in the early 1900s.
- Bali myna are also known by the common names Bali starling, Rothschild’s Mynah, Rothschild’s Starling and White Starling.
- The region where these birds are found in Bali is smaller in size than the state of Rhode Island.
- Both sexes of Bali myna sing. Their songs include a wide variety of loud chattering with whistles and piercing, high-pitched notes. Singing is often accompanied by raising the crest and bowing.
- Behaviors used for courtship and aggression are similar.
- Bali myna eggs are teal in color.
Bali mynas are critically endangered, facing both environmental and cultural challenges. Their habitat is disappearing, but the greatest threat to their survival is the illegal pet trade. Indonesia has outlawed all capture, hunting and export of these rare birds. Regardless, capture for the pet trade still continues because these birds are highly-valued for their beautiful singing and striking plumage. Learn how you can help curb the illegal pet trade by responsibly choosing a pet.
Bali mynas exist in the wild in only 4 small locations: the West Bali National Park, and Bali’s small islands of Nusa Penida, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembongan.
In the 1980s, scientists estimated there to be about 350 birds in the West Bali National Park. During the 1990s, over 400 captive-bred Bali mynas were released into the park to increase their numbers. But by 2005, park authorities estimated the number to have fallen to fewer than ten. This decline was caused primarily by poachers responding to demand for rare birds in the caged bird market. Thanks to continued conservation efforts, the number of Bali mynas in this park is now close to 200 birds.
A second population of Bali mynas now exists on the island of Nusa Penida off of the southeast coast of Bali. Starting in 2006, the Begawan Foundation released 64 captive-bred Bali mynas on Nusa Penida, an island not part of the species’ original range. The group that monitors these released birds stated that their numbers had increased to over 100 by 2009. The birds had spread across Nusa Penida, with small numbers also breeding on the neighboring islands of Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Lembongan. Sadly, by 2015 that population had decreased to fewer than 20 birds, likely due to poaching losses.
Overall Bali myna populations have only been maintained by the release of captive-bred birds combined with conservation efforts focused mainly on eliminating wildlife trade and increasing community support. There is recent evidence of the birds breeding in the wild, but wild populations are not able to sustain themselves without massive, persistent conservation efforts.