Protocols for the hand-raising and rehabilitation of mynas (contd.)

Corina Gardner


Link to Page 1: Protocols for the hand-raising and rehabilitation of mynas

Stage wise care and feeding instructions for the chicks

0–2 week old chicks

New born mynas are born totally pink, featherless, blind and completely helpless. Pin feathers begin to erupt in the second week of the baby’s life and the babies’ eyes usually open around the 8th – 10th day. Fresh hatchlings require extensive care and need to be fed almost round-the-clock. It would be unnecessary to feed the baby at night as in nature, parent birds as well as the babies sleep at night.

 Caroline Dreams - Two week old myna

Ideally, feeding should start at 6 a.m. and continue until midnight. The chicks should be given 10 feeds a day at intervals of 2 hours. A day old chick would require approximately 1 ml of formula per feed, which can be gradually increased to 2 ml by the 4th day and 3 ml by 7th day. The feedings can also be reduced to 8 feeds by the end of the 10th day. Two feeds – one around mid-morning and one around mid-afternoon, may be replaced by mashed/pureed soft fruits like banana, mango or papaya instead of the formula.

2 4 week old chicks

Even though the nestlings are covered with feathers, there is still a while before the flight feathers develop. The baby can now be given about 7 feeds a day. Gradually reduce the feeds to six times a day. Feeding however must still begin by 6 a.m. and the last feed could be given by 10 p.m.

Alex Cordero - 3 week old myna chicks

The baby can now be fed on a combination of sattu and fruits as well as mashed hard-boiled egg. Mashed/pureed banana, papaya, mango, sapodilla (chiku), mixed with crumbled up biscuits (marie or cream cracker would be ideal) are good options to add to their diet. If possible, insects such as grasshoppers, caterpillars and crickets could also be fed to the babies.

You can either offer them a mix of sattu and fruit, or the feeds may be alternated with sattu in one feed and fruit in the other. Avoid repeating any one fruit over and over again; instead, it would be better to offer them different fruits at intervals. This would be easier for them to digest and also ensure an intake of varied nutrients from different fruits.

4th 5th week

The fledgling now starts to develop flight feathers by this age and will soon fledge in a couple of weeks. The young mynas can now be given 4-5 feeds a day, about 5 hours apart. They also start foraging (searching for food) themselves by this age. The weaning process must begin by the time the chicks are 5 weeks old. Make sure that there is always food available for them so that they can start eating on their own and gradually become independent although you should still carry on hand-feeding the feedings.

Simon Morris - Baby myna

6th 7th week

The young bird is quite independent and starts to search for food. Put small morsels of food in his cage and he will start to eat on his own. Now is also the time to transfer the bird to an outdoor enclosure. Although they feed well by themselves at this age, they must be watched vigilantly to ensure they are eating well. If necessary, hand feeding can be continued once or twice a day. A bowl of fresh water must be available at all times for the young birds as they will now begin to drink water. The young birds may now be offered fruit chopped into small pieces, sattu pellets, pieces of hard-boiled egg as well as boiled rice and dal (lentils).

Alex Cordero - Feeding mynas

8th 9th week

By 8 weeks of age, the young bird should be completely weaned.
Offer the fledgling a varied diet by this age. Allow them to explore and make choices for themselves. Their diet can now include a variety of fruits, berries and insects, such as grasshoppers and crickets.

Adult bird diet

Mynas are soft bill birds and primarily only eat soft foods. They do not eat seeds. In captivity, their diet consists of sattu pellets, cooked rice and dal, hard-boiled egg, insects and fruit. Green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, mustard sprouts, millet sprouts and fenugreek (methi) leaves are also very essential.

Mynas drink plenty of water and their water bowl should always be clean and filled with fresh water. The water should be changed frequently. Mynas also enjoy frequent bathing, so it is necessary to keep a shallow bowl filled with fresh water for the birds to bathe in.

Foods to be avoided

Foods that are highly toxic for birds include apple pips, avocado (makhanphal), cherries and peaches (aadu) and must never be given to the birds. Never give the birds chocolate, as it may make the bird seriously ill.

Housing the young birds

A shoe-box or a small cardboard box with adequate holes for ventilation, a wicker basket or even a small aquarium may be used to house the young birds. The box can be lined with a soft towel at the base and a few layers of paper towels and strips of paper on top of the towel, as paper towels are easier to change when dirty.

The box must be placed in a warm, dry place, preferably near an artificial source of warmth. A heating lamp, with a light bulb of maximum 40 watts, can be placed above the box to provide warmth to the chicks. The lamp must be placed at least 12” away from the box. The ideal temperature for the baby birds would be about 35.5° Celsius (or 96° Fahrenheit). Again, it is crucial to be vigilant and ensure that the baby is not being overheated. A clear indication of overheating would be when the baby’s beak is open (as if panting) and wings are held away from its body. Unlike mammals, birds lack sweat glands and hence cannot sweat. To release excesses body heat and afford a cooling effect, they open their beak wide and pant, causing moisture to evaporate from the oral cavity and in turn cooling the body. On the other hand, if the bird is huddled and shivering, it is not receiving enough warmth.

Devna Arora - Housing baby mynas

The box must be partly covered with a light towel at night to keep out the light from the heating lamp and thus enabling the baby to sleep. It must be noted that the purpose of the lamp is to provide warmth alone and not light and it must never interfere with the natural light patterns and disrupt the baby bird’s sleep cycle. Even when in captivity, the parent bird sits on the baby, shielding it from most of the light. The heating lamp may be discontinued after the baby crosses 2-3 weeks of age and is covered with its first layer of feathers.

Ants are a real danger to baby birds and can fatally hurt them. It must be ensured that there are no ants in the vicinity of the bird.

Sexing mynas

Mynas are sexually monomorphic species and sexing mynas on appearance or behavior alone is extremely difficult. Mynas very seldom reproduce in captivity which further adds to the confusion. However, they are a few indications to ascertain the difference between male and female mynas. Within the same species, male mynas are larger than the females. The wattles of male mynas appear larger. Hill myna males have distinctly flatter heads than females, whereas the female mynas have a more rounded head. Another indication that the myna is male is the fact the pelvic bone in the male myna is set closer than in the females.


Mynas frequently preen their feathers. Birds use their beaks to preen their feathers and keep them in good condition. Preening is an essential way for birds to keep their feathers neat and trim.

Rehabilitating the young mynas

By the age of 3 months, the young mynas should be shifted to an aviary, preferably one with some fruiting trees. They must be provided with a nest box to retire in at night and during harsh weather. Human contact must be withdrawn from the birds and they must be encouraged to be independent.

Avoid placing a feeding table in the enclosure. Instead, place the food in different sections of the enclosure every day. The placement of foods must be rotated so as to encourage ‘searching’ behavior in the young birds. Food must also be placed at different height levels so as to get the birds used to foraging at various levels of height. The birds must be offered a variety of foods to prevent dependency on any one food type. A significant proportion of their diet must now comprise of wild-gathered foods as it will assist their transition to the wild and help them recognize readily available foods. The birds must have access to fresh drinking water at all times and they must frequently be given provisions to have a bath.

Devna Arora - Pre-release aviary

Soft release

By the age of four to five months, the young mynas will be ready to explore the outside world. Common mynas and Jungle mynas are highly adaptable species which makes it easier to release them in any convenient surroundings where they will be able to find sufficient forage. Hill mynas on the other hand are habitat specialists and need forested landscapes for survival. The young birds must now be shifted to an aviary. The aviary for Common and Jungle mynas may be in any suitable location whereas the aviary for Jungle mynas must be in a forested landscape.

By four to five months of age, the mynas may be allowed to exit the enclosure via a window (an opening) in the aviary. The window may either be on the side or the top of the aviary. The window must be opened early in the morning and closed by sunset. The birds will initially fly around and come back to the enclosure for a few weeks. As they grow older and have explored their surroundings thoroughly, they will begin to stay away for longer durations of time, until they have established a territory of their own and no longer feel the need to return to the enclosure. They should be completely independent by 6 months of age.

Hard release

Although a soft release is ideal for hand-raised birds, there may be instances where you may have to opt for a hard release for the young mynas. The minimum age at which the bird may be released is 6 months of age. Habitat selectivity may carry more importance when opting for a hard release. Hill mynas must only be released in forested landscapes while Common and Jungle mynas may be released in any suitable habitats.

Sickness in mynas

Egg binding

Egg binding is a medical condition when a female bird is unable to expel an egg. Egg binding can pose a serious threat to female birds. Younger females are at a greater risk of dying from egg binding. In the event that a female myna is suddenly puffed-up and listless, it is quite likely due to egg-binding.

The female must immediately be placed in a small cage or shoe-box and provided with quiet and additional warmth. A heating lamp would be ideal. Castor oil or even cooking oil can be gently applied in to the birds vent or cloaca, with a Q-tip (a cotton bud) to lubricate the area and facilitate the passing of the difficult egg. One drop of castor oil given orally will also help the passage of the egg. If these basic requirements are provided it is unlikely that the bird will suffer any serious health issues.

Abnormal droppings

Green droppings usually indicate an infection. Birds fed on soft food and greens may normally produce green and watery droppings, but if the droppings are runny and bubbly as well as carry an odor and persist over a period of time (especially if the bird is fluffed up, lethargic and has a loss of appetite), it indicates a chill or an infection. A pinch of Ridol, Kaltin, terramycin or any other antibiotic tablet can be dissolved in a half container of water. The infection should likely subside in a day or two and the medication may be discontinued a day after the bird has returned to normal health. Avoid exposing the birds to a cold breeze or draught, especially at night, as this causes chills and other health problems. Avoid offering fruits at this time; cooked rice and boiled egg are a good option instead.

Fungal infection

Aspergillosis is the most frequently occurring fungal infection in birds. It is primarily a disease of the lower respiratory tract. There is a high prevalence of infection in mynas.The spores of the fungus are often present in the environment and healthy, unstressed birds are generally resistant to even high levels of spores. Birds with a weakened immune system, or high stress levels (due to environmental changes), are most susceptible to the disease. It may be contracted as the result of inhalation of fungal spores, fecal material or soil, or oral ingestion, especially if the birds are fed moldy food or housed in a contaminated environment.

It is therefore extremely important that feed is properly stored and is free of fungal growth. Proper ventilation in the enclosures is also essential. Most importantly, the birds must be fed a healthy diet.

Symptoms of a fungal infection include constant sneezing, coughing or labored breathing, loss of appetite and diarrhea. It can be life threatening if left undiagnosed or untreated.

Treatment: The infected bird must be immediately isolated from other birds and provided with a quiet environment and additional warmth – a heating lamp would be ideal for this purpose. Antifungal tablets like Amphotericin B, Flucytosine, Fluconazole or Itraconazole must be added to the bird’s drinking water. You could also consider using Teeburb tablets which is an herbal veterinary preparation. Immunostimulants may also be added to the bird’s diet to facilitate recovery. However, if you find that the bird is not drinking the water, then the medication will have to be force fed.

References and further reading

Bockheim, G. and Congdon, S. (2001) The Sturnidae husbandry manual and resource guide
Available from:
sturnids.pdf [Accessed: 26/08/2012]

Gardner, C. et al (2012) Protocols for the rehabilitation of baby Ring-necked parakeets (Psittacula krameri), Rehabber’s Den
Available from:
%20parakeets.pdf [Accessed: 25/06/2012]

Houston, J.P. (2009) Hand-rearing softbills, The Foreign Softbill Society UK
Available from: [Accessed: 26/08/2012]

Indiviglio, F. (2008) The Natural History and Captive Care of the Hill Myna (Myna Bird, Indian Hill Myna), Gracula religiosa – Part 1, That Bird Blog
Available from:[Accessed: 26/08/2012]

Indiviglio, F. (2008) The Natural History and Captive Care of the Hill Myna (Myna Bird, Indian Hill Myna), Gracula religiosa – Part 2, That Bird Blog
Available from:[Accessed: 26/08/2012]

Stewart, K. (2002) Hand-rearing guide for the beginner, Lori~Link
Available from:[Accessed: 26/08/2012]

Walker, C (undated) Megabacteria infection in birds
Available from:[Accessed: 28/08/2012]

Wikipedia (2012) – Myna
Available from:[Accessed: 19/07/2012]

Photographs used

Alex Cordero – 3 week old myna chicks
Available from:
photostream/ [Accessed: 19/07/2012]

Alex Cordero – Fledgling mynas
Available from:[Accessed: 19/07/2012]

Alex Cordero – Gapers
Available from:[Accessed: 19/07/2012]

Caroline Dreams – Two week old myna
Available from:[Accessed: 17/08/2012]

David Lim – Hill mynas

Devna Arora – Brahminy starling

Devna Arora – Jungle myna

Devna Arora – Housing baby mynas

Devna Arora – Pre-release aviary

Dr. Lip Kee Yan – Bank mynas
Available from:
[Accessed: 23/08/2012]

Nupur Buragohan – 10 day old baby mynas

Nupur Buragohan – Placing a basket as an artificial nest for baby mynas

Om Prakash Yadav – Adult male hill myna
Available from:[Accessed: 19/07/2012]

Tris – Common myna
Available from:[Accessed: 19/07/2012]

Rosa Say – Myna chick fallen from the nest
Available from:[Accessed: 24/07/2012]

Simon Morris – A month-old myna

Stephen Witherden – mynas nest
Available from:
photostream/ [Accessed: 19/07/2012]


I’d like to add a special thank you to Dr. Nupur Ranjan Buragohan for his invaluable guidance and suggestions on the drugs for the treatments of the birds.

Edited by Devna Arora
Published in 2012

First and foremost: if the animal is injured, it would be very obvious but is the animal truly orphaned? Please ensure if the animal is truly orphaned and not receiving parental care before you decide to pick it and take it home.

The second step would be to reach the animal to a rehabilitator or rescue center. If you are unaware of any in your vicinity, you will be able to get guidance from your local veterinarian, zoo or forest department.

This is not an uncommon situation to find yourself in. Although there are innumerable rescue centers and rehabilitators around, there may be times when there are none in your vicinity or you are unable to reach anyone in time for help. It may be best to prepare yourself to care for the animal in such an instance.

Much information on many topics and species is readily available online. Try to narrow down some pieces of information you can work with for a start. Also, get in touch with rescue centers or rehabilitators via phone or internet. Exchange digital photographs where necessary – it barely takes a few minutes. Even if unable to help you directly in person, any person or center will surely be willing to guide you through the care of the animal and help you in choosing an appropriate protocol for its care and rehabilitation.

It is a common myth that any baby (or adult) bird or mammal that has been touched by human hands will be killed by the rest of its group. This belief has most strongly been associated with baby birds, making people extremely reluctant to pick up and leave babies back in their nest even when the parents are around.

Over innumerable years, we have reunited many youngsters successfully, and inevitably, they have all been handled by human hands for several hours or days before being reunited. The key factor in the acceptance of the animal by the parent and other group members seems not to be the smell of human touch on the animal, but the actual process of reuniting.

A common mistake that most people make while attempting to reunite an animal is that they linger on too close and in turn, frighten the parents away. When trying to place an animal back in its nest, you must always keep a safe distance from the nest and the rest of the group so as not to scare them away. It is easy to get impatient and want to return to the animal after short intervals, but you must refrain from doing so, rather, observe from a distance. Success is more likely than not. I can hardly believe any parent would refuse to accept its own child just because a ‘human’ has touched it!

Some people have suggested the use of gloves to prevent direct contact with the animal. Although you may not always have gloves on you when you need to handle an animal and it isn’t completely necessary to have them when handling a rescue, you may choose to use them if you prefer to.

Yes, in all probability. But, no animal can be simply picked from captivity and released – that is when they will not survive. Animals need to go through a period of rehabilitation before they can be release. The technique and timeframe of rehabilitation will depend upon the species and individual in concern. Guidance on rehabilitating your animal can be sought from an experienced rehabilitator.

Wild animals belong in their natural habitats. Their true glory and happiness can only ever be seen in nature. As much as the babies will be attached to you and need you when they are young, they will soon outgrow their dependence on you and their heart will yearn to be outside, in the wild – where they belong.

Rather than waiting too long and releasing an animal that is not completely prepared, it is wise to plan the release, rehabilitate the animal and release a strong and prepared animal that will surely be able to survive in the wild.

If you truly love them and want what’s really best for them, I trust you will do what is best for your little one.

You can work with any species you are more comfortable with or all species that you come across. Often, we just work with animals as they come along but if you don’t feel particularly confident with any species, it might be better to transfer it to someone more confident. If you prefer to work with a certain species and feel your hands are better adapted for that species, you may specialize in it – its’ your call.

It takes lots of time, deep commitment and a genuine interest in the wellbeing of another animal’s life to enter the field of wildlife rehabilitation. Experience and knowledge are paramount as there are many that cannot be written or explained to you but those that you will learn through your own experience. Wildlife rehabilitation is a painstaking and time consuming task requiring your complete dedication and lots of sacrifices.

In a nutshell, the following are the basic qualities required to be a rehabilitator:

1. Genuine interest and concern

2. Dedication and sacrifice

3. Commitment to work in the best interest of the animal

4. Willingness to learn

5. Willingness to ask and look for help

6. Willingness to go the extra mile

7. Willingness to let go at the time of release

Many small animals, esp. urban species, can be rehabilitated and released from home as long as they have a natural distribution around your home. Many of these animals come back for visits until they are completely independent but sometimes for longer as they are closely bonded to the caregivers. Often, the animals may completely cease to return after release or some days after release. Although this seems disappointing, it a good sign demonstrating that the animal is completely independent and capable of surviving on its own without any assistance from you.

As rehabbers, our aim is always make the animal independent so it doesn’t feel the need to keep returning.

Yes, we can definitely attempt to help every animal that needs our help. But unfortunately, we may not always be able to cure every animal and restore it to its desired health status. As rescue workers, we come across a disproportionately disadvantaged population of animals, some of which are beyond human help. There may be times when it is in the best interest of the animal to euthanize it. But it is our duty and responsibility to make an informed choice and always work for the betterment and highest quality of life for the animal in concern.

Euthanasia, commonly known as ‘mercy killing’, is the act of killing someone to relieve it from unbearable and incurable suffering. Needless to say, euthanasia is always the very last resort after all other means to help the animal have failed and purely done to relieve an animal of unbearable pain and suffering. Euthanasia can be easily carried out by a veterinarian by means of an injectable drug – a quick and painless process. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you on the same. Ensure you have the appropriate permission to do so when dealing with protected species.