Mynahs vs. Starlings and House Sparrows

To: Ian Montgomery <>
Subject: Mynahs vs. Starlings and House Sparrows
From: Brian Fleming <>
Date: Fri, 12 Apr 2002 20:14:58 +1000
Ian Montgomery wrote:
>I  wonder whether Starlings and House Sparrows have suffered from
> competition with Common Mynas. It would be interesting to see if there
> were any correlations between changes in range and abundance of these
> 3 species. It's my feeling that Starlings suffer when Mynas move in.

Back c. 1968 when I first got seriously interested in birds, there was a
cranny in the galvo roof of our old house in Ivanhoe (Vic). I was able
to observe its inhabitants one spring while I was hanging out nappies on
the line (precious few other opportunities to birdwatch at that phase of

House Sparrows set up a nest in the roof. The young ones got as far as
hanging out to be fed, and I was looking forward to seeing them make
their first flights when a pair of Starlings moved in.  The Starlings
killed the young Sparrows and I suspect ate them. After that the cock
Starling sat on the edge of the gutter and sang furiously with clapping
wings while his mate sat on the eggs; later he and she rushed in and out
feeding the young ones. The four young birds were well feathered and
leaning out like gargoyles while again I expected imminent first

Enter the Indian Mynahs. I found the bodies of the young Starlings lying
on the path below the nest, very battered as if severely pecked - and
the Indian Mynahs were in possession of the nest-hollow. They
successfully reared their young.

At that time Tree Sparrows, Goldfinches and even Greenfinches were quite
common in Ivanhoe; they are now hard to find. I suspect that the cause
is disappearance of decrepit sheds and garages from backyards and of
backyards themselves; the tidying of weedy patches and disappearance of
waste ground. Even the enthusiasm for replacing rough grassland and
pasture weeds in parks with indigenous plantings may have something to
do with it. In fact I was beginning to believe these species were almost
extinct in the district till two or three winters ago.  I found a
thoroughly neglected patch which was a sea of Artichoke Thistles - and
it was swarming with Goldfinches and Greenfinches and both Sparrow
species. I found myself quite pleased to see them. (Alas, this valuable
twitchers' resource is now a factory.  But the scruffier sections along
Darebin Creek could be worth trying).

Anthea Fleming in Ivanhoe, Vic.
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