We lived as retired expats in Thailand for three full years, from August 2006 through August 2009. I have written extensively about the experience in a past blog and unfortunately a terrorist destroyed that site, overwriting about 400 articles with each page accusing me of being a baby killer. I hardly ever kill babies! I did, however, have a pet wild mynah bird which was much like some people have an outdoor cat or wild squirrel that comes to the door each day to be fed and hang out a little. There is a story here, and I will post a video at the end of that bird coming to the front door expecting to be fed. These birds are incredibly smart.
The common mynah is capable of learning about 100 sounds. This imitation of sounds is likely a sort of sonic camouflage. Oddly enough with the local mynahs growing up in our gated community, many of the birds have mastered children’s cartoon sound effects as heard through windows. Is Thailand a bizarre place of beauty and wonder? Imagine walking about and mixed in with sounds of birds chirping you hear phony cartoon sound effects of laser beams, boi-oi-oi-oi-oing, and other things these birds hear on TV through windows.
Once I looked out my back window and saw the neighbor lady put out a dish of food for her cat. A pair of mynas had designs on that food. While one bird repeatedly swooped down above the cat while making threatening noises the mate would casually gobble up some of the cat’s food and once sated they traded roles and the other bird strafed the poor cat while the other took its sweet time enjoying a meal.
These birds are smart, they have a mate, and they work cooperatively to get what they want. People in general should work so well together.
Our gardener one day found an abandoned mynah chick who apparently fell out of a nest. He and our maid secretly nursed the poor thing to health. Note: we’re not rich, but for about ten dollars we had weekly landscaping and maid service. This mynah grew to be very trusting of people and seemed to assume that myself and our hired help were his family — he never found a mate.
The other mynahs appeared jealous of our pet’s regular free meals which I would feed him twice daily inside our house. We had a routine where he would come to the front door and demand attention and then I would let him in and I had trained him to stand on a kitchen chair and I would feed him bite sized bits of pork. All the other mynas could see was that he came in and left with food.
One day it seemed like Halloween. About every 15 minutes a different mynah would come to the front door, walk in, not know what to do, and then leave. This happened about ten times in a row over the course of two hours. I humored them all by letting them in but not feeding them. It was so funny watching them boldly enter, wander about confused, and then leave.
Below is the video of my pet wild mynah. Notice how I narrate live everything that is about to happen. We had a definite routine that was easy to preface each step of the way. If I didn’t give him the larger piece of meat he would hang out for a while but I always left the door wide open so he could leave as soon as he felt the need to.