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The story of the Bali mynah

When you first see a Bali mynah (aka Bali starling), your first impression will be of a small white starling with bright blue plumage around the eyes. What might surprise you is that you are looking at one of the most endangered birds at Zoo Atlanta! The Bali mynah is native to only a small area on the island of Bali in southeast Asia. The entire island of Bali is about the size of the state of Rhode Island, and you can only find the Bali mynah on the northern coast of the island. This area is heavily forested, which provides the birds with the necessary shelter and nesting material they need. It’s also a great place to find their favorite food, bugs! So why are Bali mynahs struggling when their home range seems to offer everything they need? The short answer is humans. Unfortunately, the Bali mynahs became a popular target in the illegal wildlife trade. This has decimated the wild population. At one point, the wild population in Bali was estimated to be less than 10 individuals. The Bali Starling Conservation Project has begun to collect individual birds hatched in zoos and release them onto surrounding islands. The wild population has slowly climbed to over 100 individuals.

Zoo Atlanta houses several Bali mynahs, including one very successful breeding pair. Working across the country with other Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA) accredited facilities, with direction from the AZA Species Survival Plan® (SSP), we hope to continue to raise a genetically diverse population of this rare species with the hope that someday the wild population can reach a stable level. The best thing that we all can do, as individuals, is to always research where your pet is coming from. When we never buy pets that come from the wild, poachers will have no motivation to collect these beautiful birds for the pet trade. 

Josh M.
Keeper III, Birds

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