Controlling Myna Birds

Myna Birds are a hot topic in the news in Cairns at the moment. They have become such a pest that an eradication programme of trapping and euthanasing is being discussed, to try to bring the problem under control.

The trouble is that this, on its own, will not solve the problem. Myna Birds have only moved into Cairns in pest proportions because the native birds have been driven out. Native birds need native plants, but over the years Cairns gardens have become more and more exotic and less and less native. Hence, a vacuum of native birds has created a void for exotic Myna birds to fill.

Trapping and removing the Myna birds is not a permanent solution. Native birds will not move back into gardens made of exotic plants, even if there are no Myna birds there. Native birds simply do not live in gardens of exotic draceanas, happy plants, heliconias, hibiscus, acalyphas and gold canes. So, removing the Myna birds will only work in the short time, and after a little while new Myna bird populations will re-establish because there are no native birds to keep them out.

The only long-term solution is to increase the habitat for native birds by planting native plants. This is where a concerted effort by land-holders and government agencies is needed, to change planting policy from exotic plants to native plants.

This approach will work. We know from experience.

Yuruga Nursery is surrounded by farming land inhabited by large populations of Myna birds. They sit on the fence and look in, but they have never, in our 30 years experience, ever done more than fly over our property. Why? Because our native gardens have an established population of native birds which keep the Myna birds out.

The following is an article from our August 2004 newsletter.

Solving the Myna Bird Problem (and sparrows as well)…

Myna Birds are a terrible pest in gardens in north Queensland. They are aggressive and destructive, and when they move into your garden they drive every other bird out. The number of articles that have appeared in the local media lately gives an indication of the seriousness of the problem. All sorts of remedies are being advocated, including a gassing machine to catch and destroy the birds. For nature lovers this is a drastic and quite alarming solution.

There’s actually a very simple solution, which native plant lovers have known for years… plant native plants!

Native plants provide habitat for native birds, and if you have a strong, stable and well-established population of native birds in your garden, Myna birds will not be able to establish there.

The trick is to have a sufficiently large and established population of native birds in the garden so that force of numbers and established territory makes the garden an unattractive place for the Myna birds to move into.

Native birds need native plants if they are to live permanently in your garden, so the secret of building up a strong and permanent population of native birds in your garden is to plant sufficient native plants in the right balance. You need to provide both food and shelter, and to cater for fruit and insect eating birds as well as honeyeaters.

Include lots of honey-flora plants, making sure the plants you choose are suitable for your area. Popular honey-flora plants include grevilleas, callistemons, banksias, melaleucas, tea-trees, graptophyllums and eucalypts.

Also include plants that will provide food for the fruit and seed eaters. Figs and native Laurels are great for larger gardens. In smaller gardens, the Little Evodia is a very sought-after seed-source, and the fruit of dianellas (flax lilies) are very popular food sources for native birds.

It’s all a matter of choosing suitable plants for your particular garden, so don’t be afraid to ask our expert retail staff for advice in selecting plants.

Native birds will not establish permanent populations in your garden unless you also provide adequate shelter and appropriate nesting sites, so you will need to include lots of lilly-pillies and other dense bushy plants. Make sure the plants you choose are suitable for your area so that they grow well and provide sufficient food and shelter.

Evidence gathered from gardeners over the years suggests that you need an area of about an acre, made up of at least 80% native plants. This may sound impossible, but the good news is that you don’t need to own an acre yourself. Birds don’t see man-made fences and so a group of like-minded neighbours with predominantly native gardens can easily achieve the same result.

The Yuruga Nursery property is surrounded by farming land which is regularly invaded by Myna birds. However, we have never had Myna birds at Yuruga, and this is due simply to the large and extensive native gardens and the permanent populations of an assortment of native birds at the nursery.

For more information on how to create a balanced native garden that will attract native birds to the exclusion of pest birds such as sparrows and Myna birds, see our Information Sheet No. 7 “Attracting Birds”.

One Reply to “Controlling Myna Birds”

  1. I love the article on the Myna birds.
    Bought our house 2 years ago, first thing was to take out the hibiscus plants, which every plant was, I think we pulled out over 30 of them! Then planted all natives. 2 years on and the garden is really starting to take off! Just had out first burst of flowers from all the callistemons, and some of the lilly pillies. And yes have had a wonderful visit from all sorts of native birds.
    Still however get the Myna Birds, but I believe in a few more years when the larger tress get more established this may not be the problem.
    Thanks for a great native nursery!

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