Tale Feathers, the Bali Myna

Tale Feathers, the Bali Myna

See them in Nature. Hear them in Nature. Understand and respect them in Nature.

ManButur Suantara

Tale Feathers Bali Myna. The specifics of the Bali Myna is referenced at the end of this article. This bird is otherwise known as the Bali Starling, Leucopsar rothschildi. First of all, the Bali Myna is known foremost as the official fauna emblem of Bali. Due to the fact that it is the only endemic vertebrae species of the island today.

‘I have gone out and photographed the Bali Myna three times in their natural habitat.’

~ ManButur

Are they hard to find?

At this time no. Before, there is a lot of poaching of these birds. Mainly to sell. They are valuable in the blackmarket because they are beautiful. Maybe it is lucky that they are not poached for other reasons. The Bali Myna is still on the endangered list. In fact they are critically endangered.

ManButur Suantara Photography. Wildlife Photography. Bali Myna, Bali Starling. ManButur Sawidji.
Bali Myna otherwise known as Bali Starling. Photography by ManButur Suantara.

What are your recollections on particular trips when photographing the Bali Myna?

Taking photos of the Bali Myna, you need to know their behaviours and habits. What time they like to eat, where they like to feed. They are mainly fruit eaters, but also do feed on insects, grubs and worms. They spend most of their time in the canopy and some times foraging on the forest floor.

Uniquely, they actually only look for food once a day. Most other birds feed twice a day. The Balinese Myna just once. Another thing I observed is they love water and pruning themselves. They often fly together or at least in pairs. These are sociable birds.

What do you find most intriguing about them?

Actually.. the sound they make. They are mimics. They like to mimic other birds. Whilst their own sound is loud and high pitched, yet they can mimic very different vocals from different birds. When they are singing, their bodies bob up and down and their crown feathers stand up .

I find this beautiful to watch. The males do this to attract females. The crown feathers are longer on the male than it is on the female, but other than this they are similarly built. Unlike many other bird species.

Is this bird appropriate as the fauna emblem of Bali? Why?

Yes.. Due to their critically endangered classification, it is good that we raise awareness of this bird. The other obvious reason is that the Bali Myna is only found in Bali. This bird does not like to travel far on its own. They stay close to home. Much like Balinese people perhaps.

There are many types of Mynas and Starlings in Bali. In Bali they are known as ‘Curik’. In 2005 this species had reached a population level as low as 50 in the wild. This is crazy.

Bali Myna by ManButur Suantara, Wildlife Photography. ManButur Sawidji
Bali Myna is a critically endangered species endemic to Bali.

Tale Feathers Bali Myna Question: What can we learn?

You can say that Balinese people are bird enthusiasts. Whether its singing birds, decorative birds, fighting roosters.. this is a culture that is involved with birds. From one perspective, placing the Bali Myna as the fauna emblem of Bali certainly is great marketing for the species. Raising awareness of this species. Bali had one other endemic species and that wa the Balinese tiger, which is now extinct. They were confirmed extinct approximately in 1940’s. This was also due to over poaching and loss of habitat. With this one other endemic species to the island of Bali, a concerted effort is being made towards its regeneration in its natural habitat.

Yet, perhaps this effort can be counter productive. Because of their valuable status, they are in high demand. As symbols of status privileged Balinese homes. Though there are breeders who operate within the rules, it also attracts opportunistic poaching because the return on a pair of Bali Myna is much higher than other birds. This threat to the species is difficult to control. Out of the wild the numbers of the Bali Myna is safe and growing, as a business. But in the wild, they are still vulnerable to poachers who are looking to make bigger profit margins.

Photography in Conservation

ManButur has only recently begun this new journey of exploring wildlife photography. Perhaps this is an inevitable progression of one who loves to be out in Nature. What I’ve noticed, there is no shortage of commercial and popular demand of photography. Sometimes it is artistic, sometimes not. Definitely today, photography does not always serve any purpose. It is a super indulgence. So, when photography can serve and contribute towards education in such a crucial subject, that of our environment. That of the threats and issues that our forests and wildlife face today, it gives a driving motivation. In this area, photography plays a vital role in the documentation and study of wildlife and the natural environment.

Nature is God’s artistry. It is humbling really to return to selfless function in this genre. It is not fashion, it is not glamour, at least it shouldn’t be. This is a witness, recording. Hopefully a bridge that bring greater understanding to others of the life that we share on this planet.

Description

The Bali myna is a medium-large bird around 25 centimetres (9.8 in) in length. It is almost wholly white with a long, drooping crest, black wing-tips and tail tip. It has a yellow bill with blue bare skin around the eyes and legs. The black-winged starling (Sturnus melanopterus), a similar species, has a shorter crest and a much larger area of black on wings and tail, plus a yellow eye-ring (without feathers) and legs

Distribution

The Bali myna is restricted to the island of Bali (and its offshore islands) in Indonesia, where it is the island’s only endemic vertebrate species. In 1991, the bird was designated the faunal emblem of Bali. Featured on the Indonesian 200 rupiah coin, its local name is jalak Bali (Balinese script: ᬚᬮᬓ᭄ᬩᬮᬶ)


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