2016’s calendar of out and about begun with a farm visit to Garfield North property ‘Bingarra’, owned by member Lyn Link and husband Peter. Scenic, hilly and productive, the farm grazes cattle and horses.
For WOF members, this visit also provided an important chance to hear from guest speaker, Max Caithness, on myna bird eradication.
The common or Indian myna, note the spelling, can be confused with the harmless honeyeater, Noisy Miner. While both have similar colourings and size they are not the same in their impact on the environment.
The common myna is a nuisance. It invades, disrupts, attacks and takes over. It degrades woodland ecosystems by removing other birds. It is highly invasive and could be compared to the rabbit and cane toad! Why is this? This bird was rather innocuously introduced to Australia in the 1860s as a mode of insect control in market gardens. One hundred and fifty years later, man has to deal with what is now a true pest species.
Max Caithness’ talk was focussed on the hazards, trapping and hopeful eradication of the Indian mynah. This is essential if Australia is not to lose many valuable native bird species. The problems with mynahs do not stop here. The myna, with its nesting behaviours and droppings around homes and gardens, carries lice which are vectors for coccidiosis and dermatitis. Thus, common mynahs are harmful to man as well as to other birds.
With no permission required for trapping and eradicating mynahs, the chief requirement is to do so humanely and effectively. Traps are available, being specially designed. Farm supply stores have them for sale, as do some private suppliers and LandCare groups. Baw Baw and Cardinia Shires reportedly have myna traps for hire.
Mr Caithness emphasised that trapping is worth the effort and can make a difference. Winter months when there is reduced food availability for the birds are more likely times to set effective traps, with care needed to ensure that native birds and other animals are quickly released if also caught. Given the successful spread of this feathered pest, its eradication will be a massive task. This requires both community persistence and political will.