The Common Hill Myna (Gracula religiosa), also known as the Indian Hill Myna or simply Hill Myna, is a striking and charismatic bird that is known for its distinctive appearance and unique vocalizations. This bird is found throughout the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia, and is a popular pet bird due to its ability to mimic human speech.
The Common Hill Myna is a medium-sized bird, measuring approximately 23-26 cm (9-10 inches) in length and weighing between 140-180 grams (5-6 ounces). It has a striking appearance, with its glossy black feathers, bright yellow-orange beak, and striking yellow eye patch. Its wings and tail are also black, with white patches on the outer wing feathers that are visible in flight.
One of the most distinctive features of the Common Hill Myna is its bare, bright yellow skin patch behind each eye. This patch of skin is surrounded by a ring of black feathers, which makes it stand out even more. This skin patch is also used by the bird to communicate, as it can be raised and lowered to convey different messages.
The Common Hill Myna is a social bird that is often found in pairs or small flocks. It is known for its loud, raucous calls, which can be heard from a long distance away. The bird is also a talented mimic, and can imitate a wide range of sounds, including human speech, other bird calls, and even mechanical sounds such as car alarms.
In the wild, the Common Hill Myna feeds on a variety of foods, including fruit, insects, and small animals such as lizards and frogs. It is also known to raid crops such as rice and fruit orchards, which has made it a pest in some areas. Despite this, the bird is still highly valued as a pet due to its ability to mimic human speech.
The Common Hill Myna is listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which means that it is not considered to be in immediate danger of extinction. However, like many bird species, it is still facing a number of threats, including habitat loss and fragmentation, hunting for the pet trade, and competition with invasive species.
Despite these challenges, the Common Hill Myna remains a beloved and fascinating bird, both in the wild and as a pet. Its striking appearance and unique vocalizations make it a true standout among the avian species of Southeast Asia and beyond.