Common Myna, Coorg -
If the sheer beauty of Coorg moves you to poetry, and you feel like spouting a few verses aloud when you think you’re alone, you’d be wise to think twice. Chances are, you may not be as alone as you thought, and may hear your words thrown back at you, often with added acoustics in the form of clicks, croaks and the odd appreciative whistle. The culprit, most often, is not a supernatural, forest djinn, but a mischievous, yellow-beaked commoner with yellow stockings and war paint on his cheeks, who loves to flaunt his ability to mimic human speech. Sprinkled all over the subcontinent, but particularly charming when framed by the rolling hills of Coorg, the Common Myna is a garrulous and social party bird that loves to work hard and play hard. Like a lot of us, in this age of Facebook and Twitter, he’s totally into social networking, and begins before dawn, posting updates on his communal roost that could include Egrets, Crows, Starlings and Parakeets. This communal roosting serves as a forum to repel common predators, discuss flight routes, and exchange notes on food sources, especially the grasshoppers that form their staple. At dusk, he logs off and retires to his Common Myna group, where he lends his vocals to his local choir in rendering their ‘good night’ anthem. While he’s otherwise such a free-spirited extrovert, the Myna is a solid, dependable mate, and cases of divorce or polygamy that are endemic in the avian world, are conspicuous by their absence. When a Myna takes a partner, it is for life, and it is this sense of chivalry and fidelity to his better half that is legendary. For a change, this is one thing that we humans could well learn to mimic.