Indian myna birds dine out at the Masterton refuse transfer station. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

JAKE BELESKI

jake.beleski@age.co.nz

The name suggests otherwise, but the Indian myna could be set to pose major problems for Wairarapa.

Greater Wellington Regional Council is asking Wairarapa residents to be on the lookout for the pest bird as it tries to make itself at home in the region.

Indian mynas have been resident in Masterton in low numbers for some years, but indications suggest its population is on the rise.

The council’s pest animals team leader, Glen Falconer, said they were regarded as serious invasive threats.

“The myna is a native of India and evolved to live in the tropics, hence the reason why they are seldom seen here.

“But recently, their numbers have been noticeably growing south of Waipukarau.”

Mynas have a shiny black head and shoulder plumage that merges into vinous brown for the remainder of the body, as well as a large patch of white which is flashed from each wing during flight.

They are commonly seen deftly avoiding traffic while foraging for road-killed insects.

Mynas often nest in cavities, under the eaves of houses, in letter boxes, and nesting boxes erected for other species.

“They vigorously defend their nest site and feeding territory, and destroy eggs and nestlings of other species within their area.”

Greater Wellington senior biosecurity officer Steve Playle said warmer temperatures could see the bird spread further south over time.

“We had a look at the Masterton landfill a few weeks back and we could see seven there, and we could hear others that we didn’t see.

“We’re just trying to get the word out there to the public, so we can get a better idea of others that might be around.”

The aim is to gather data so when the time comes to review the council’s pest management strategy, a decision can be made on whether Indian mynas should be added to the list of designated pests.

“I understand they can do quite a lot of damage to fruit crops, and they’re a very aggressive, territorial bird which can displace a lot of other species,” Mr Playle said.

“They’re the two big points that we need to look out for.”