Yes Peter. One of the more interesting things to me is people’s early recollections of birds. They were not known to me during childhood in Geelong, but were then common in Melbourne and certainly called Indian Mynahs – as they were when Neville Cayley eventually included a plate of “Introduced Birds”. (Eric Rolls writes about the introduction to Melbourne of 42 “Indian mino birds” in 1862.) At leafy Melbourne University they were a distraction ostentatiously copulating on the lawns in the balmy Spring days. They were not known in Papua New Guinea, but could be found in the 60s in Honiara, and certainly in the early 70s at the primitive Cairns airport, and of course much earlier in Fiji - along with the mongooses and other introductions.
From: peter murphy [
Sent: Tuesday, 17 April 2012 3:27 PM
Subject: RE: [canberrabirds] Mynas and TV
When I lived in India we only ever knew them as Indian Myna. Interestingly my Salim Ali has them as Indian Myna (republished in 1996) while the Collins (1988) has them as Common Myna. They were impossible to confuse with any of the other Myna species.
The name issue was debated at length in 2006, when CIMAG was set up. At that time, I agreed with your approach that it would have been better to use the correct name. However, we were not doing a “scientific job”; we were trying to interact with the ACT community, the vast majority of whom knew the targeted bird only as Indian Myna. I think now we would only have added to public confusion with Noisy Miner if we had used Common Myna. As you noted, it also gave us the opportunity for a catchy acronym!
It is interesting that virtually all other similar groups in eastern Australia have taken the same approach. Sean Dooley made a joke about a possible xenophobic sentiment in his introduction to the 2011 “Wingspan” article that CIMAG (sorry, CCMAG!) made a major contribution to.
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 2:23 PM
Subject: [canberrabirds] Mynas and TV
One of the most useful purposes of a chat line such as that from COG is that we are able to educate people in many things, not least the correct name of birds. One that keeps cropping up and that annoys me greatly, as it did the late great Steve Wilson, is the name Indian Myna. The bird’s CORRECT name is Common Myna, Acridotheres tristis (that’s the bird’s scientific name in italics for those who are not sure about what it means). The name is that used by the IOC, an international group that is one of several such organisations that keep updated lists of the world’s birds and the list that most people, including a lot of people in Birds Australia, or whatever they are calling themselves this week, are now using rather than the out of date Christidis and Boles that COG follows. The myna is found as a naturally occurring species in much of South-east Asia, not just India.
I know the name does not fit into CIMAG’s catchy name (CCMAG just doesn’t have that “ring” to it) but let’s get the name of the species correct. It is errors like this that keep confusing people, especially beginners.
I also recently saw a program on, I think, A Current Affair, that spoke of Canberra’s concerted effort to eradicate the myna. Part way through it flashed up a picture of a Noisy Miner, (Manorina melanocephala) with no explanation that it was a different, and native, species. Confusion between the two species is common and not helped by this sort of mix up.
If you want to learn bird names, please learn, and USE, the correct one.