108 J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., Vol. 116: 2019
VERTEBRATE PREDATION BY JUNGLE MYNA ACRIDOTHERES FUSCUS MAHRATTENSIS1
James a. Fitzsimons2,3
1Accepted June 07, 2019
First published: December 31, 2019 | doi: 10.17087/jbnhs/2019/v116/137326
2The Nature Conservancy, Suite 2-01, 60 Leicester Street, Carlton VIC 3053, Australia.
3School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood VIC 3125, Australia.
Members of the family Sturnidae (starlings and mynas)
are mostly omnivorous, although the importance and
proportion of different categories of food (e.g. fruit, seeds,
insects) to the diet can vary between species and seasons.
The diet of the jungle myna Acridotheres fuscus consists of
“insects, fruit, seeds and nectar” (Ali 1999; Craig and Feare
2009; Feare and Craig 1998). Here, I report a case of jungle
myna feeding its nestlings a vertebrate (gecko).
At 15:00 hrs on July 18, 2018 on the backwaters near
Alleppey (=Alappuzha, 9° 32′ 25″ N, 76° 25′ 24″ E) in Kerala,
India, my attention was drawn to the begging calls of young
birds within a hollow in the trunk of a dead coconut palm,
c. 5 m above the ground. Shortly afterwards, an adult jungle
myna Acridotheres fuscus arrived and perched on the palm,
which was close to a houseboat. For the next 20 minutes,
until the houseboat departed, the myna perched on fronds
of surrounding palms, getting within 10 m of the nest and
retreating approximately 20 m on multiple occasions. The
adult was observed carrying a small gecko and a large spider
in its bill. The bird sat there (Fig. 1), waiting for the boat to
depart before going to feed its nestlings.
The breeding observed here is later than that described
by Feare and Craig (1998) and Ali (1999) for the southern
jungle myna Acridotheres fuscus mahrattensis, who suggest
the breeding season in southern India is from February to
May (April to June-July further north).
Reviews of the diet of jungle myna (e.g. Narang and
Lamba 1982; Feare and Craig 1998; Craig and Feare 2009;
Karim and Ahsan 2016) did not report vertebrate prey and
spiders in the species’ diet. A detailed study on the diet of
jungle myna through analysis of stomach contents (Narang
and Lamba 1982) recorded the presence of grasshoppers,
mole crickets, crickets, termites, beetles, ants, caterpillars,
bugs, and dipteran larvae.
Small reptiles have, however, been recorded taken
occasionally by other members of Sturnidae. Feare and Craig
(1998) list 13 of the nearly 120 species of Sturnidae taking
lizards, geckos, or skinks, namely 1. red-winged starling
Onychognathus morio, 2. wattled starling Creatophora
cinerea, 3. splendid glossy starling Lamprotornis splendidus,
4. greater blue-eared glossy starling L. chalybaeus, 5. African
pied starling L. bicolor, 6. white-cheeked starling Spodiopsar
cineraceus, 7. common hill myna Gracula religiosa,
8. common starling Sturnus vulgaris, 9. spotless starling
S. unicolor, 10. black-bellied glossy starling Notopholia
corusca, 11. Bali myna Leucopsar rothschildi, 12. common
myna Acridotheres tristis, 13. collared myna A. albocinctus
(see also Beasley 1978; Bertram 1976; Dean 1978; Delpy
1972; da Rosa Pinto and Lamm 1956; Mungure 1973). The
Javan myna A. javanicus is also known to prey on geckos
(Lim 2013; Meng 2015).
Compared to other members of Sturndiae, Feare and
Craig (1998) suggest Acridotheres mynas are opportunists
and have a more omnivorous diet, involving a much higher
proportion of insects and other animal matter. Bertram (1974)
noted the diet of the common hill myna Gracula religiosa as
“also includes lizards, which together with insects, are taken
especially when feeding young”. Further observations of the
diet of jungle myna (and other Acridotheres species) feeding
young could determine whether there are seasonal dietary
changes in this species, and whether small reptiles are more
regular components of the food fed to the young during the
Fig. 1: Jungle myna with gecko and spider, waiting to feed
J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc., Vol. 116: 2019
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Fitzsimons, James A. (2019): Vertebrate predation by jungle myna Acridotheres fuscus mahrattensis. J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 116. doi: 10.17087/