are 12 known sub-species of Hill Mynahs. All Hill mynahs are of
the genus "Gracula" and the species
"religiosa". Because of
trapping and smuggling, the number of Hill Mynahs is considerably less
than it once was and have been forced to live in lower
Prized for their vocal skills for hundreds of years in their native
the Hill Mynahs reputation is legendary. They have
been described by many as the best talking bird in the world,
magnificent, magnetic and majestic, and the absolute champion of
They can choose to imitate any human voice and speak in high or low
The Greater Indian Hill (Gracula religiosa intermedia) and the Java Hill (Gracula religiosa religiosa) are two of the Hill species that were captured and imported for the pet trade more than any other. Lesser Hill mynahs (Gracula religiosa indica) were also captured and imported but they were not as popular, so not as many were imported into the U.S. Lesser Hill mynahs are capable of learning words and phrases but do not excel at it.
goes on during breeding season
Hill Mynahs - General Description
The glossy black plumage is basically the same in all Hill races. When struck by the light you can see a sheen of iridescent purple, turquoise and green.
All have similar bright yellow wattles but the wattle pattern varies and a bright orange beak that fades to yellow at the tip,resembling "candy corn".
There's a band of white on each wing.
The legs and feet are yellow
Immature Hill mynahs look like the adults except that the plumage is somewhat dull and may even have a ragged appearance. After the first molt is over the plumage is shiny and smooth.
Species of Hill Mynahs
Gracula religiosa ptilogenys
a.k.a. Sri Lanka Mynah
About 8 1/2 inches long. Native to Sri Lanka. The smallest of the Hill mynahs. The only Hill mynah lacking wattles on the sides of the head but does have wattles on the neck. Talks well and has been eagerly sought after for the pet market.
Lesser Hill Mynah
Gracula religiosa indica
a.k.a. Southern Hill Mynah
Length 9 to 10 inches, rarely exceeding 10 inches. Found in southwest India & Sri Lanka. In spite of its apparent inferiority to mimic human speech as well as the Greater and Java Hill Mynahs, this bird was still caught and imported for pet bird trade.
Gracula religiosa andamanensis
a.k.a. Nicobar Mynah
Native to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Mynahs from Nicobar have been seen to possess two large naked lappets joined at the back of the neck at the top end, leaving no feathered portion in between. This probably distinguishes them from the other Hill mynahs seen in the Andamans and the rest of the Nicobars.Palawan Mynah
a.k.a. Philippine Talking Mynah
Native to Palawan Island (Philippines). About 12 to 13 inches long. This mynah is similar in looks to the Gracula religiosa religiosa but is lightly smaller in size and the bill is shorter but deep. There is very little white on the outer margin of the 3rd primaries of the flight feathers.
Originally from Enggano Island, west of southern tip of Sumatra. About 10 1/2 inches long. Said to be synonomous with the Gracula religiosa religiosa but the feathers on the sides of forehead are larger and directed upwards to form tufts at the base of the upper mandible and also has a shorter stubbier bill.Greater India Hill Mynah
a.k.a. Greater Indian Hill mynah,Nepal Mynah,
Talking Mynah, Indian Grackle
Found in Burma, Thailand, Nepal, Assam, northern India, and the Himalayas. About 10 to 11 1/2 inches long. The eye and nape patches are joined. The Greater Hill Mynah that was captured regularly and in great numbers to be imported for the pet trade.Greater India Hill Mynah
a.k.a. Greater Indian Hill mynah,
Found in India to the north-east of the Deccan, particularly in Orissa, and also in eastern Madhya Pradesh and northern Andhra Pradesh. Usually a little smaller than the Gracula religiosa intermedia and has a shorter, finer bill. This is not the Greater Hill Mynah that was captured in great numbers and imported for the pet trade.
Gracula religiosa religiosa
a.k.a. Talking Mynah
Found in Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Bali, Borneo and Bangka Island. Length is about 12 inches. This is the Java Hill sub-species that was captured the most and imported for the pet trade but not in as great of numbers as the Greater Indian Hill mynahs.
Gracula religiosa venerata
Found in Sumbawa in the Lesser Sundas Islands between Bali and Timor. Length is said to be 12 to 13 inches.
Gracula religiosa mertensi
Found in Flores, Pantar and Alor. Said to be larger than the Gracula religiosa venerata.
Gracula religiosa batuensis
Found in Batu and Mentawai Islands off the northwest coast of Sumatra. Slightly smaller than the Nias Hill Mynah. The wattle configuration is similar and the feet and beak are shorter.
Nias Hill Mynah
Gracula religiosa robusta
a.k.a. Nias Island Mynah
Found in West Sumatran islands of Babi, Tuangku, Bangkaru. Significantly larger than the Java Hill and much larger than the Greater Indian Hill. The Nias Hill is a gentle bird. It is the largest of all Hill mynahs. They can be as much as16 inches in length and weight approximately 400 grams. Nias Hill Mynahs have declined substantially in number, due to both trappers and loss of habitat from deforestation. They are not available for the bird markets or importing and are now protected.
Mynahs by Martin Weil,
Mynah Birds, by Rosemary Low,
Cage & Aviary Birds, by Richard Mark Martin,
Starlings and Mynahs, by Chris Feare and Adrian Craig,
Mynahs-A Complete Pet Owner's Manual,by Otto von Frisch,
and information provided to me by a friend in Indonesia.
Return to Home Page Return to Mynah Species