Bird in Backyards (www.birdsinbackyards.net) states: “The Indian or Common Myna was introduced from south-east Asia into the cane fields of north-eastern Queensland in 1883, to combat insect pests, particularly plague locusts and cane beetles. Other releases occurred, and by the 1940s and 1950s it was established in many eastern metropolitan areas.”
The Canberra trapping program is well known and does appear to be successful. [Editor’s note: trapping has been proposed for Myna’s in Glebe]. A number of other councils such as Sutherland and The Hills Shires have also introduced trapping and gassing of Mynas but have not yet been able to show that their programs are effective in improving outcomes for small native bird populations.
The research done in Sydney seems to show that the habitat requirements of the Mynas are quite different to that of small insectivorous native birds, including wrens, and few if any negative interactions were noted. Mynas do seem to be on the increase in Glebe parklands. Their populations have been shown to increase with an increase in people and built infrastructure and reduction in bushy areas or wild gardens. They nest in gutters, wall crevices etc; roost in exotic trees like Date Palms (of which there are many in Bicentennial Park) and prefer to forage on open lawns and are renowned for feeding near people and on litter and picnic scraps.
There is no doubt wrens will struggle to maintain a presence in Glebe – there is a lot of competition for space! Our preferred approach is to increase the habitat areas that are preferred by these small birds; that is, thick, shrubby sites, tangled vines etc. We are hoping that areas might be set aside along the cliff face of the Harold Park development that will be away from picnic areas and other disturbances. And we are also advocating for more habitat plantings across the whole parklands, which will also add diversity and encourage other wildlife and maybe discourage Mynas.
Litter management, reduction in exotic roosting trees and education of residents to be vigilant about Mynas breeding around their homes might also be a good way to start, before embarking on a trapping program. I understand the City of Sydney’s urban ecology strategic action plan does not favour trapping at this time.
However, through programs like Birds in Backyards the Blue Wren Subcommittee tries to keep abreast of new research on urban birdlife and if there are other ways to help our Superb Fairy Wrens and other small birds, we will follow up the opportunities.