|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.