16 February 2023

Bank Myna – Old Diriyah

Whilst birding the Riyadh area in mid-February I visited a farm in Old Diriyah, where Ibrahim Alshwamin had informed me Bank Myna occurred in a small flock with Common Myna. Bank Myna is a species I had not seen previously in the Kingdom so was keen to see if I could locate them. It is not easy entering Diriyh at present due to the ongoing improvement works in the area and many roads are closed. We eventually reached the farm at midday and after asking the owner if I could walk around and take photos I tried to locate the birds. Looking from the roadside at the edge of the farm proved fruitless so I entered the farm and eventually saw few birds feeding near the small animal enclosure. Other birds were seen perched in large palm trees and others feeding on the ground in the crops. They were not easy to get close to and would fly very quickly once they noticed you. I probably saw at least ten to fifteen birds and did manage to get a few decent photos which are shown below. Bank Myna is an exotic species, occurring naturally from Pakistan to Bangladesh, has been sold as a cage bird for decades in markets in the Arabian Gulf. Feral escapees were first recorded in Saudi Arabia in Dhahran in 1984 with the second record was in Riyadh in 1989. Currently, Bank Myna distribution is recorded in Al-Qatif and Ras-Tanura as well as Riyadh and Jeddah. It is possible that the cause of this limitation in Bank Myna numbers and distribution is because of the unparalleled success of the Common Myna. The latter was first recorded successfully breeding in the Eastern Province in late 1970 but currently, the Common Myna is seen in almost all cities in the Kingdom. It has a status in Saudi Arabia as a rare breeding resident with small populations in Qatif and Riyadh. Habitat: Open country with trees, including parks and gardens, plant nurseries, croplands, sprinkler fields, irrigation ditches, animal pens and especially agricultural areas with traditional wells, where it is often near humans and rarely far from water.