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Birders

Alien Invaders

Indian Myna (Acridotheres tristis)

The Indian Myna, Acridotheres tristis, is native to southern and south-eastern Asia and was introduced to South Africa in about 1900.

A few individuals introduced into Natal multiplied into millions, and are now found over a large portion of eastern South Africa. They are now considered as one of the world's 100 worst alien invasive species (Global Invasive Species Specialist Group) and do not warrant protection. Myna's compete aggressively with many indigenous species, and tend to replace them in areas where Myna populations are well established.

Identification

The Myna is a medium-sized chocolate-brown bird, with a yellow beak, eye patch, feet and legs. The head, throat and tail are black, with the tail having white tips and white undertail feathers. The large white patches in the wings are noticeably visible when the bird is in flight. Myna's are very noisy birds and are often found in pairs or small groups where they spend a lot of time on the ground feeding. They are omnivorous and feed mainly on fruits, nectar and insects. Myna's usually roost communally in trees, under bridges and under roof eaves.

Damage

Indian Myna's greatly affect the biodiversity of an area, especially with regard to the birdlife. In Hawaii the Myna was introduced to control pest insects on sugarcane, but ending up being one of the main agents of the dispersal of the invasive plant, Lantana (Lantana camara). This is just one example of the effects that this bird can have on the biodiversity of indigenous fauna and flora.

Contact address

Please report any sightings of these birds in the Lowveld to the KNP Alien Biota Section at:

  • Alien Biota Section
    Private Bag X402
    Skukuza
    1350
    Tel: (013) 735 4114
    Fax: (013) 735 4051
    E-mail

Mallard Duck (Anas platyrhynchos)

Another invasive alien bird species that should be reported to park authorities is the mallard duck. This species (the ancestor of the domestic duck) is able to interbreed with closely related indigenous species such as the yellow-billed duck and the African black duck. The offspring are fertile, which means there is the risk of a complete dilution of the indigenous species. The males of this species have an iridescent green head, while females are a dappled brown (but with a grey-brown bill not yellow). These birds are most likely to be recorded in national parks in the Western and Eastern Capes, but increasing reports from the northern provinces suggest they could occur anywhere.

The mallard is of similar size to the yellow-billed duck. The male is a striking species with an iridescent green head and yellow beak, orange legs, white collar, chestnut breast, black back, grey wings and white tail. The female however is mottled brown all over with an drab beak. Both have a iridescent blue and white patch on their trailing wing.

The mallard is a native of Europe and North America. Please report any sightings of this species within a national park to the bird forum.

Other Species

Other alien species that are a potential threat to South Africa because of their aggression towards indigenous species include: House Crow (particularly to Table Mountain NP) and Common (European) Starling (all parks in Western and Eastern Cape).

House Sparrows (found in most parks) while not desirable are not considered much of a threat.