Pale-bellied Myna Acridotheres cinereus


Justification of Red List category
Pale-bellied Myna has a relatively small native range, in which it is heavily trapped to supply the cage-bird trade within Indonesia. Concern that the species may already have disappeared from large parts of its range led to its uplisting to Vulnerable.

Population justification
The global population size has not been directly estimated. The species has previously been described as locally common (Feare and Craig 1998); however, the species is now rare and hard to locate within its native range in South Sulawesi (A. Banwell in litt. 2019, eBird 2019), and it is suspected that the population is now small. Recorded only infrequently, it appears that the species now occurs at very low densities and is absent from the majority of its former range; based on the likely occurrence areas and suppressed density, the population size is highly unlikely to exceed 10,000 mature individuals. Within Pale-bellied Myna's native range, it is likely that the population exists as a single subpopulation.

Trend justification
The species is now rare and hard to locate, and is known to have been heavily trapped and traded (A. Banwell in litt. 2019), having been 'common' in the 1980s (White and Bruce 1986), and 'quite common' in the 1990s (Holmes and Phillipps 1996). It is therefore assessed as being in decline. The rate of this decline is very difficult to assess as the species was previously included within a complex of several similar Acridotheres mynas, and does not occur in habitats in which ornithological research has been carried out in the region so has not been seen as a taxon of concern. Equally the confused former taxonomic status means that previous market data holds no information that can be definitively assigned to this species. Very large numbers of Javan Myna A. javanicus have been recorded in trade, but it appears highly likely that an unknown (and significant) proportion of these were Pale-bellied Mynas, given the observation of trapping and trading within the species range. Consequently a continuing decline is believed to be occurring, but the rate of this has not been quantified.

Distribution and population

The native range of Pale-bellied Myna is restricted to South Sulawesi, Indonesia, as far north as the town of Rantepao (Coates and Bishop 1997, del Hoyo and Collar 2016). There are also small, but apparently increasing, introduced populations in Sarawak (Gregory-Smith 1997) and Sabah (Malaysia) (Myers 2009, Wong Tsu Shi 2009), and West Kalimantan (van Balen et al. 2013), Borneo. Several individuals thought to be escaped from captivity have also been observed near Manado in North Sulawesi, including individuals re-trapped locally as pets: there are no historic records of the species from North Sulawesi (Tasirin and Fitzsimons 2014). The species has also seen recent records in the Palu region of Central Sulawesi (eBird 2020). There does not appear to be evidence for this species having been introduced to Sumba and Flores, Indonesia, where records of introduced Javan Myna (A. javanicus) may have been attributed to this species in the past.


The species occupies open lowland areas, including paddyfields, villages and cultivated areas, from sea-level to 1,500 m (Craig and Feare 2019). The species's diet is little known, but is believed to include insects as well as fruit. Individuals have been seen foraging on the ground among cattle, and also perched on backs of these animals (Craig and Feare 2019).


The species is threatened by trapping for the cage-bird trade within Indonesia. The numbers taken from the wild are unknown. Numbers present in bird markets are also unknown, due to confusion over the species boundaries with other Acridotheres species.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation actions are known for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Research into the population size of the species. Research into the extent of trapping and the rate of decline this is causing. Monitor population size and declines. Protect the species to reduce trapping.


25 cm. A medium-sized, mostly greyish myna with lanceolate feathers of forehead erect and forming crest; crown feathers lanceolate and elongated. Has forehead blackish-charcoal, crown black and glossy, cheek duller black; hindneck and upperparts grey, paler on rump, where some feathers have white shafts; wing dark brown, primary coverts and bases of primaries white (forming white patch); tail brownish-black, terminal third of outer rectrices white, narrower band on inner rectrices, dark feather shafts prominent; chin and throat to breast ashy grey, becoming paler to buffy grey on belly, white on vent; iris lemon-yellow to brownish-orange; bill yellow, small blue-grey patch at base of lower mandible; legs yellow. Sexes alike. Juvenile undes­cribed (Craig and Feare 2019).


Text account compilers
Fernando, E., Martin, R., Elliott, N.

Banwell, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Acridotheres cinereus. Downloaded from on 03/10/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 03/10/2023.