Trapping flying ferals at home to protect native species

Image from DAF website

Peter Assfalg

The recent restrictions on movement within Australia has resulted in considerable disruption to the conservation work undertaken by many firearms owners and users, including major Conservation and Wildlife Management programs being put on hiatus.

However, this does not affect certain conservation work that can be done from the convenience of your own home.

After attending an Indian myna bird (Acridotheres tristis) management workshop conducted at Ipswich, materials were purchased from Bunnings Warehouse to build traps. The Indian myna, one of only three birds listed, has been rated by the World Conservation Union as among the planet’s 100 most invasive species. It has been logged as an ‘extreme threat’ in Australia and was handed the unflattering honour of receiving the Pest of Australia award in the Wild Watch Quest for Pests 2005.

Indian myna,  not to be confused with a

Indian myna, not to be confused with a

noisy miner (Manorina melanocephala), a native nectar feeding bird.

noisy miner (Manorina melanocephala), a native nectar feeding bird.

It beat the cane toad and feral cat to collar this reviled tag according to the Canberra Indian Myna Action Group (CIMAG, 2020). The plan and the required construction materials list, for a suitable trap consisting of a feeding and a containment chamber, can be found at

Completed Indian myna bird trap consisting of feeding and containment chambers (CIMAG)

The Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association says: ‘Indian myna birds are accomplished scavengers, feeding on almost anything, including insects, fruits and vegetables, scraps, pets’ food and even fledgling sparrows.

‘They take over tree hollows and plug up nest sites they are not using, forcing possums and birds out and ejecting nestlings and eggs from their nests. Favoured nesting locations include the walls and ceilings of buildings, making these birds a nuisance to humans. Nests are quite messy and consist of a variety of materials such as leaves, grasses, feathers and assorted items of rubbish are common materials.’

Aggressive Indian myna bird


Indian myna birds are an economic problem because they damage fruit and grain crops plus their noise and smell can be annoying where they are in large numbers. They can also spread mites and have the potential to inflict disease to people and domestic animals.

Indian mynas become quite fearless if they are not hassled and can be a problem in outdoor eating areas by stealing food off plates. There are instances of them attacking people, but this is not common.

The imported nuisance is found along the east and south-east coasts of Australia. Introduced in Melbourne from south-east Asia between 1862 and 1872 to control caterpillars and other insects in market gardens, they established themselves quickly. In 1883, they were transported to Townsville and neighbouring sugarcane-growing areas in north Queensland to combat locusts and cane beetles with several other introductions occurring until the 1950s

As they are feral birds, no permission is required to trap and dispose of them. However, obligations exist through relevant animal welfare legislation to treat and dispose of the birds humanely. Control methods would include destruction of nesting sites and installing proofing/deterrents. Products such as netting (bird net, wire or mesh) are used to exclude the species from an area. Bird spikes, wire coils, post and wire and electric systems can be employed to prevent Indian mynas from landing or roosting on building ledges and surfaces. Other methods include scare devices such as a combination of audio or visual deterrents.


Hints and tips for trapping

Indian mynas are intelligent birds. They will learn to avoid traps if they sense danger. So it is important to reduce the risk of them becoming trap wary, as they will pass that knowledge of danger onto others.

Accordingly, it is critical that these pests are never able to escape and certainly not released from the trap. Another tip is for people not to approach the trap during daytime if there is a bird captured. It may give an alarm call, warning other free-flyers that you and the trap are bad news.

The colour red seems to attract them, so I placed a red plastic container loaded with dog food, in the yard and put the unbaited trap in close proximity to create a familiar and unthreatening environment.

To my surprise on the first day a single Indian myna had entered the unbaited trap. By day two, I refilled the red bowl and baited the feeding and containment chambers, as eight Indian Myna birds were trapped. During the third day four pests succumbed to the lure of an easy meal. While the numbers captured may ebb and flow, I remain confident that an ongoing contribution can be made to protecting Australia’s fauna, even during restricted circumstances.

Creating interest
Unwanted visitor attracted
Trapped birds
Visitor highly interested

The Indian myna is known to carry diseases which may drive some native birds to extinction through avian influenza and salmonellosis.

They also harbour parasites which can cause health issues in humans so gloves should always be worn when handling them.

Management of traps

Traps used should be designed specifically for Indian mynas that avoid snaring native birds.

Trappers should not to use seed or seed‐based food, for example bread, in traps as this can attract native birds.

Use dry dog food made for small adult dogs or cat food as the bait.

If a native bird is trapped, it should be released immediately (but avoid letting the Indian mynas escape). Do this by placing a rag over the door opening and putting your hand underneath to grab the non‐target bird. This prevents target birds from escaping as you are catching the other bird.

The traps should contain food and clean water for any trapped birds. Traps should be checked morning and evening.

The birds are not to be exposed to undue stress while trapped. Avoid approaching the trap during daytime hours. This averts Indian mynas associating humans with traps and then becoming trap shy.

Trapped Indian mynas should be disposed of in a reasonable period (within two days), rather than kept captive for days on end.

If decoy birds are used in traps, they and any trapped birds should have access to adequate food, clean water, shelter and shade.

The birds should not to be treated cruelly. Observe the demands of the animal welfare requirements of your state/territory.

Dealing with trapped Indian mynas

The method used for disposing of trapped birds is to be quick, painless and stress‐free.

Acceptable euthanising methods include gassing with carbon dioxide or carbon monoxide.

If using carbon monoxide, you must opt for a car with a cold engine. Do not use diesel vehicles.

Place the containment chamber with the trapped birds in a near‐airtight bag or box, connect a grey water hose/pipe from the car exhaust pipe into the bag/box and run the cold car for 1½ minutes or so, walk away for a further minute while the gas settles. The birds should be unconscious within 10 to 15 seconds and dead within 30 to 40 seconds ‑ if it takes longer than 30 to 40 seconds for the birds to die peacefully, there may be something wrong with your technique and it should be reviewed.

Cervical dislocation (breaking their necks) can also be used, but it should be instantaneous with minimal handling of the birds.

Disposal of dead birds

Dead Indian myna birds should be disposed of in a hygienic and environmentally sound way.

YouTube resources:

Indian myna birds – A pest species

Cage trapping of Indian myna birds

Indian myna bird – trap and euthanise

Image from DAF website

If you are inspired to assist in the control of Indian myna birds, which have been nicknamed ‘flying rats’ due to their scavenging resembling that of rats and ‘cane toad of the sky’ due to their noxious presence, take action during both restricted and non-restricted periods, to help protect Australia’s sometimes diminishing fauna.