Babblers, Starlings (Mynas)

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Babblers live in communities of around a dozen birds, jointly defending a territory. Many even breed communally, with a dominant pair building a nest, and the remainder helping to defend and rear their young. Starlings have strong feet, their flight is strong and direct, and they are very gregarious. Their preferred habitat is fairly open country, and they eat insects and fruit. Several species live around human habitation and are effectively omnivores.


Asian Pied Starling

Total Photos: 5

The Asian Pied Starling is a species of starling found in the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. They are usually found in small groups mainly on the plains and low foothills. They are often seen within cities and villages although they are not as bold as the Common Myna. They produce a range of calls made up of liquid notes. The flight is slow and butterfly-like on round wings.

This starling is strikingly marked in black and white and has a yellowish bill with a reddish bill base. The bare skin around the eye is reddish. The upper body, throat and breast are black while the cheek, lores, wing coverts and rump are contrastingly white.

Bank Myna

Total Photos: 5

Bank Myna is a myna found in South Asia. It is smaller but similar in colouration to the Common Myna but differs in having a brick red bare skin behind the eye in place of yellow. It is greyer on the underside and in this and in the presence of a slight tuft of feathers bears some resemblance to the Jungle Myna. They are found in flocks on the plains of northern and central India, often within towns and cities. Their range appears to be extending southwards in India. The name is derived from their habit of nesting almost exclusively in the earthen banks of rivers where they excavate holes and breed in large colonies.

The head is black on the crown and sides and the upper plumage is slaty grey while the underside is lighter grey with pale pink plumage towards the centre of the abdomen. The wing is black but has a wing patch at the base of the primaries and the tips of the outer tail feathers are pale pinkish buff. The naked skin behind the eye is brick red, the legs are yellow while the iris is deep red. The sexes are indistinguishable in the field. Young birds have a browner head and neck.

Black-winged starling

Total Photos: 1

The black-winged starling is endemic to Indonesia. There are three recognised subspecies: the nominate race, which occurs across much of the island of Java; tricolor, which is restricted to south east Java; and tertius, which is found on Bali and possibly Lombok.

Brahminy Starling

Total Photos: 4

The Brahminy Starling is a member of the starling family of birds. They are usually seen in pairs or small flocks in open habitats on the plains of South Asia.

This myna is pale buff creamy with a black cap and a loose crest. The bill is yellow with a bluish base. The iris is pale and there is a bluish patch of skin around the eye. The outer tail feathers have white and the black primaries of the wings do not have any white patches. The adult male has a more prominent crest than the female and also has longer neck hackles. Juveniles are duller and the cap is browner.

Brown-cheeked Fulvetta

Total Photos: 5

The brown-cheeked fulvetta is a resident breeding bird in India and Southeast Asia. Its habitat is undergrowth in moist forests and scrub jungle. This species, like most babblers, is not migratory, and has short rounded wings and a weak flight.

This babbler builds its nest in a tree, concealed in dense masses of foliage. The normal clutch is two or three eggs.

Brown-cheeked fulvetta measures 15 cm including its longish tail. It is brown above and buff, with no patterning on the body or wings. The crown is grey, and the cheeks are dark.

Brown-cheeked fulvettas have short dark bills. Their food is mainly insects and nectar. They can be difficult to observe in the dense vegetation they prefer, but these are vocal birds, and their characteristic calls are often the best indication that these birds are present.

Chestnut-tailed Starling

Total Photos: 4

Collared Myna

Total Photos: 0

Common Babbler

Total Photos: 1

Common Babblers are found in dry open scrub country mainly in India. This small, slim babbler with a long tail is buff to grey above with dark streaks. The underside is unstreaked and paler, the throat being nearly whitish. Like most other babblers, the common babbler is found in small parties of six to twenty. They are vociferous, moving on the ground often with members keeping watch from the tops of bushes. They forage through the undergrowth hopping on the ground and creeping like rodents. When moving on the ground, they often keep the long tail raised.

Common Hill Myna

Total Photos: 3

The common hill myna is most commonly seen in aviculture. It is resident in hill regions of South Asia and Southeast Asia.

Common Myna

Total Photos: 2

The Common Myna is a member of starlings family native to Asia. Myna has adapted extremely well to urban environments. The Common Myna is an important motif in Indian culture and appears both in Sanskrit and Prakrit literature.

The Common Myna is readily identified by the brown body, black hooded head and the bare yellow patch behind the eye. The bill and legs are bright yellow. There is a white patch on the outer primaries and the wing lining on the underside is white. The male and female are similar and birds are usually seen in pairs.

It is a species of bird native to Asia with its initial home range spanning from Iran, the entire South Asian subcontinent, including Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka; as well as Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Myanmar, to Malaysia, peninsular Thailand, Indo-China and China.

Common Mynas are believed to pair for life. They breed through much of the year depending on the location, building their nest in a hole in a tree or wall. They breed from sea-level to the Himalayas.

The normal clutch size is upto 6 eggs. The Asian Koel lays eggs in Myna nest sometimes. Nesting material used by mynas include twigs, roots, tow and rubbish. Mynas have been known to use tissue paper, tin foil and sloughed off snake-skin.

The Common Myna uses the nests of woodpeckers, parakeets, etc. and easily takes to nest boxes; it has been recorded evicting the chicks of previously nesting pairs by holding them in the beak and later sometimes not even using the emptied nest boxes. This aggressive behaviour is considered to contribute to its success as an invasive species.

Like most starlings, the Common Myna is omnivorous. It feeds on insects, grasshoppers, crustaceans, reptiles, small mammals, seeds, grain and fruits and discarded waste from human habitation. It forages on the ground among grass for insects, and especially for grasshoppers. It however feeds on a wide range of insects, mostly picked from the ground. It is a cross-pollinator of flowers. It walks on the ground with occasional hops and is an opportunistic feeder on the insects disturbed by grazing cattle as well as fired grass fields.

Dark-fronted Babbler

Total Photos: 4

The dark-fronted babblers are small chestnut brown birds with a dark black cap, a whitish underside and pale yellow iris. They forage in flocks in the undergrowth of forests constantly making calls and uttering alarm calls when disturbed.

These babblers have a weak flight and are residents within their range. The forage in parties and clamber up vegetation and when disturbed, they tend to drop from the topmost perches of the bush into the undergrowth. The typical habitat is undergrowth in forest or on the edge of forests in more open growth. Their food is mainly insects. They can be difficult to observe in the dense vegetation they prefer, but like other babblers, these are noisy birds, and their characteristic rattling churr alarm calls are often the best indication that these birds are present.

European Starling

Total Photos: 2

The European Starling is a passerine bird in the family starling.  This species of starling is native to most of temperate Europe and western Asia. It is resident in southern and western Europe and southwestern Asia, while northeastern populations migrate south and west in winter to these regions, and also further south to areas where it does not breed in Iberia and north Africa. It has also been introduced to Australia, New Zealand, North America, and South Africa.

It is among the most familiar of birds in temperate regions. It is 25 cm long, with a wingspan of 45 cm and a weight of 90gm. The plumage is shiny black, glossed purple or green, and spangled with white, particularly strongly so in winter. Adult male European Starlings are less spotted below than adult females. The throat feathers are long and loose, and used as a signal in display. Juveniles are grey-brown, and by their first winter resemble adults though often retain some brown juvenile feathering especially on the head in the early part of the winter. The legs are stout, pinkish-red. The bill is narrow conical with a sharp tip; in summer, it is yellow in females, and yellow with a blue-grey base in males, while in winter, and in juveniles, it is black in both male and female.

Moulting occurs once a year, in late summer after the breeding season is finished; the fresh feathers are prominently tipped white [breast feathers] or buff [wing and back feathers]. The reduction in the spotting in the breeding season is achieved by the white feather tips largely wearing off. Starlings walk rather than hop. Their flight is quite strong and direct; they look triangular-winged and short-tailed in flight.

Indian Scimitar Babbler

Total Photos: 1

It is found in peninsular India in a range of forest habitats. They are most often detected by their distinctive call which is an antiphonal duet produced by pairs within small groups. They are often hard to see as they forage through dense vegetation. The long curve yellow, scimitar-shaped bills give them their name.

The most distinctive feature of this 22 cm long bird is the long down-curved yellow bill which is blackish at the base of the upper mandible. It has a striking head pattern, with a long white supercilum above a broad black band through the eye. The white throat and breast contrast with the dark greyish brown on the upperside and dark grey to black on most of the underside. The tail is broad, long and graduated. They have short, round wings and being weak fliers are rarely seen flying in the open.

Indian scimitar-babblers have long down-curved yellow bills, used to work through the leaf litter in search of their food which is mainly insects and berries. They can be difficult to observe in the dense vegetation they prefer, but like many other babblers, these are noisy birds, and the characteristic bubbling calls are often the best indication that these birds are present. The call itself consists of a loud fluty oop-pu-pu-pu followed immediately by a krukru. The second note is produced by the female and the duet is accurately synchronized.

Javan myna

Total Photos: 1

The Javan myna is native to Java and Bali and has been introduced to southeast Thailand, southern Malaysia, Singapore, Sumatra, the Lesser Sundas, Taiwan, Puerto Rico, and Japan. It is found in cities and cultivated areas.

The Javan myna is omnivorous and eats seeds, fruit, nectar, insects and human waste. It is often found in large groups. Its voice is similar to that of the common myna. It builds its nest in holes. The eggs are bluish-glaucous. Javan mynas are bold and not very afraid of humans.

Jungle Babbler

Total Photos: 2

The Jungle Babbler is found in South Asia. They are gregarious birds that forage in small groups of six to ten birds.

The Jungle Babbler is a common resident breeding bird in most parts of the Indian Subcontinent and is often seen in gardens within large cities as well as in forested areas. In the past, the Orange-billed Babbler of Sri Lanka was considered to be a subspecies of this babbler, but is elevated to a species.

The Jungle Babbler's habitat is forest and cultivation. This species, like most babblers, is non-migratory, and has short rounded wings and a weak flight. The male and female are identical, drably coloured in brownish grey with a yellow-bill making them confusable only with the endemic White-headed Babblers of peninsular India and Sri Lanka. The upperparts are usually slightly darker in shade and there is some mottling on the throat and breast.

The Jungle Babbler lives in flocks of seven to ten or more. It is a noisy bird, and the presence of a flock may generally be known at some distance by the harsh mewing calls, continual chattering, squeaking and chirping produced by its members.

Jungle Myna

Total Photos: 5

The Jungle Myna is a member of the starling family. This bird is a common resident breeder in tropical southern Asia from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Burma east to Indonesia.

This common passerine is typically found in forest and cultivation. It looks similar to Common Myna. The Jungle Myna builds a nest in hole. The normal clutch is 3-6 eggs.

These 25 cm long birds have grey plumage, darker on the head and wings. There are large white wing patches obvious in flight, and a white tail tip. The head has a forehead tuft. The bill and strong legs are bright yellow, and there is no bare skin around eye. The male and female are similar, but juveniles are browner.

They are usually found close to water OR rice fields. The southern Indian race has a blue iris. Like most starlings, the Jungle Myna is fairly omnivorous, eating fruit, grain and insects. In many parts of Asia, they are kept as pets.

Large Grey Babbler

Total Photos: 2

The Large Grey Babbler is found in dry open scrub countries in South Asia and also in Iran. They are gregarious birds that forage in small groups of six to ten birds

These birds are gregarious and very social. They sometimes form the core of a mixed-species foraging flock. They feeds mainly on insects, but also eats grains, nectar and berries. The groups maintain territories and will defend it against neighbours but will sometimes tolerate them. For their size, they are long lived and have been noted to live as long as 16.5 years in captivity.

Malabar Starling

Total Photos: 2

Puff-throated Babbler

Total Photos: 3

Puff-throated babblers are brown above, and white below with heavily brown streaks towards the breast and belly. They have a chestnut crown, long buff supercilium and dusky cheeks. The throat is white, and is sometimes puffed out. Puff-throated babblers have strong legs, and spend a lot of time on the forest floor. They can often be seen creeping through undergrowth in search of their insect food.

Rosy Starling

Total Photos: 5

The Rosy Starling is a passerine bird in the starling family. The breeding range of this bird is from easternmost Europe across temperate southern Asia. It is a strong migrant, and winters in India and tropical Asia. In India in winter, it often appears to outnumber the local starlings and mynas.

The adult of this species is highly distinctive, with its pink body, pale orange legs and bill, and glossy black head, wings and tail. Males in the breeding season have elongated head feathers which form a wispy crest that is fluffed and more prominent when the bird gets excited; the crest is shorter in winter and the black areas have paler feather edges, which get worn away as well as the black becoming more glossy in the breeding season. Winter plumage in males is rather dull.

Females have a short crest and are duller overall, especially without the sharp separation between pink and black. The juvenile can be distinguished from Common Starling by its obviously paler plumage and short yellow bill. Young birds molt into a subdued version of the adult plumage, lacking the crest, in autumn and acquire the adult plumage when they are nearly one year old in females, and nearly two years in males. The latter in their second year wear a plumage similar to adult females but with longer crests and noticeably pale feather edges.

The Rosy Starling is a bird of steppe and open agricultural land. In years when grasshoppers and other insects are abundant, it will erupt well beyond its core range, with significant numbers reaching France and the UK.

This is a colonial breeder, and like other starlings, is highly gregarious, forming large winter flocks. It also shares the other species' omnivorous diet, although with a preference for insects.

Southern Hill Myna

Total Photos: 1

Tawny-bellied Babbler

Total Photos: 2

The Tawny-bellied Babbler is a small babbler at 15 cm including its long tail. It is dark brown above and orange-buff below, with a rufous grey crown. The babbler is a resident breeding bird in India, Sri Lanka and southwest Nepal. Its habitat is scrub and tall grassland.

Whiskered Yuhina

Total Photos: 2

Its range extends across the Himalayan forests in northern India to northeast Indian states, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and in the east to Indochina including Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist montane forests. The whiskered yuhina is sometimes found in mixed hunting parties with other yuhina and fulvetta species, but it has also been reported to not associate with mixed hunting parties in some areas. It is described as one of the commonest yuhinas in the Himalayas, although it is relatively uncommon to rare at low elevations. It prefers relatively undisturbed closed canopy cover.

White-headed Starling

Total Photos: 3

Yellow-eyed Babbler

Total Photos: 2

The Yellow-eyed Babbler is a passerine bird species found in open grass and scrub in south Asia.

The Yellow-eyed Babbler has an extremely large range and is native to Bangladesh, China, India, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam