January 16, 2013

New Pest in Town

The Corniche, after the storm. Snow is on the mountains (but a little hard to see.)

I am not an ornithologist; but about 2 years ago, I noticed an odd bird I had not spotted in Beirut before. Actually, it was the sound they made that caught my attention first; an odd squawking sound. There just aren’t that many birds in town and you rarely hear them. Sometime later I saw the bird. It seemed to feed or nest in the date palms on and near the Corniche.
I took me a while to figure out what kind of bird it was. In my home country, I know the native birds species by name, and if you don’t, there are guidebooks available with bird species. There are no books on bird species in Lebanon (or none that I know of), so it took some Googling. Thanks heavens for Google.

But I got it figured out. It is the common myna (Acridotheres tristis مينا اعتيادية) . Doesn’t sound very exotic. They are a common bird species, of the starling family, but occur naturally only in southern and eastern Asia (the name myna comes from Sanskrit). So they’re a little out of the way, so to say.
I was all happy about that. Yeah, finally a bird in Beirut. Until I read this : The range of the Common Myna is increasing at such a rapid rate that in 2000 the IUCN Species Survival Commission declared it one of the world's most invasive species and one of only three birds in the top 100 species that pose an impact to biodiversity, agriculture and human interests. In particular, the species poses a serious threat to the ecosystems of Australia where it was named "The Most Important Pest/Problem". Just our luck. We
We don’t get a new bird, we get a pest. They’re quite good as pets, it seems, and can be taught how to speak.

And now I will stop with this lecture, before my brother is going to make fun of me.


Anonymous said...

From Australia. I read your blog every morning on the way to work. It's my routine and keeps me sane. Keep up the good work

Fadi said...

I knew it ! When I saw the bird I thought to myself: This is going to be one of those pest type birds I was reading about the other day..
Well, have no fear, this bird will certainly not be the biggest threat to biodiversity in Lebanon anytime soon, not as long as the Lebanese hunter is alive !

Liliane said...

Thanks for the daily photos Sietske! Helps us expats feel closer to home!

Anonymous said...

Oh I was just getting ready and fired up to make a comment. Until I read the last sentence :(.

Fouad said...

Hello, I'm a Lebanese living in Kuwait and I've often spotted these birds in the city. Thank you for your posts as it makes me re-discover my country through your lenses.

Anonymous said...

this is an extremely aggressive bird.. I witnessed 5 of them attacking a cat the other day.. they are a dominant species. I think they came to Lebanon through the port or so..

Sietske said...

Australia, glad you like it! Actually, I read bloggers from Western Australia and Perth, because I spent some time there.
And Liliane and anonymous and Fouad, enjoy the pictures!

ANd yes, it seems an invasive bird, but I would love to get my hands on one and teach him speaking!