Backyard Buddies
Noisy Miner

Photo: Rosie Nicolai

Noisy Miner

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If you live in eastern Australia, chances are you're pretty familiar with the Noisy Miner. These birds can be raucous neighbours, but also helpful in your garden if they're given the chance.

You don't have to go far to find this backyard buddy. In fact, if you live in a suburban area, there's every chance that you have some outside right now. Noisy Miners live in northern Queensland and all along the eastern coast to South Australia and Tasmania.

Noisy Miners, Manorina melanocephala, are Australian native birds but they are being overtaken by the introduced Common or Indian Myna which is an aggressive bird that competes with Australian native birds for nesting sites and preys on eggs and chicks.

They have a very loud call that sounds like a repetitive 'pwee, pwee, pwee'. When they want to warn other birds about possible dangers, their calls become even louder and higher pitched, creating quite a ruckus. While sometimes annoying for us, these guys are great little communicators and can quickly convey important information to the whole group.

Noisy Miners have big appetites and will eat all sorts of food. While they are technically a type of honeyeater and love to eat nectar, they will also eat insects, frogs, lizards, seeds, fruit, and just about anything else. Their ability to eat so many different food sources may explain why they like living close to us in built up areas.

While the Noisy Miner can be a nuisance, they can also be a helper in the garden. These guys love to eat the little bugs and insects that get up to no good in your veggie garden.

Miners can show a lot of aggression towards other birds and will often try to chase them away. They also go after possums, hunting them out of tree hollows. You may even see miners mobbing pet cats by calling loudly and swooping them in groups.

Noisy Miners prefer open spaces and tall trees. Since Noisy Miners love wide-open spaces, the more densely vegetated your backyard, the less likely they are to claim the space for themselves. This gives other animals a chance to thrive in your backyard too.

Spiky bushes are great for deterring Miners and other aggressive birds and animals, while sheltering little buddies.

As Noisy Miners breed year-round, there are always chicks which are just as noisy as their parents. They often demand food from any members of the Miner group that they see. They breed in large colonies and other birds will often feed and care for the chicks - most of these carers are male.

Tip 

Noisy Miners are often confused with the Common or Indian Myna. The Noisy Miner is predominantly grey, and is a native to Australia. The Common Myna is a brown bird of about the same size, with a black head, and is an introduced species. Increasing the amount of dense understory plantings in your backyard will discourage both kinds of these noisy birds and provide better habitat for smaller native birds.

Did you know?

The Noisy Miner is a very communal, family orientated bird. The parents take turns rearing the chicks and very unusually, they get a lot of help from other males in their group. The chicks are given a lot of attention by their families, sometimes getting up to 50 visits to the nest in one hour.

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Quote

”BYB shows that people can make a positive difference to conservation efforts in Australia. Learn, explore and love your bit of wilderness.“

Michele – National Parks Ranger, NSW

Photo: OEH