Wednesday, October 1, 2014


This is DDS265 - a female shama that I bred in April this year from Ballet Dancer.  It was acquired by Somchai's friend from Jeffrey Low when it was a taimong (juvenile). Somchai sent me the photo yesterday with the message that he did no know if it had fully completed its molt or if the tails are still growing. Somchai also mentioned that it had been fed on Jeffrey's power shama food which Somchai is also using.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Taimong molt - update

On 3rd September 2014, I posted a video of Ballet Dancer's son that was part way through its first molt.  Below is a recent video of its progress under Jeffrey's care:

The video shows that, with proper care, a captive-bred shama can be maintained in as good a condition or better than any shama in the wild.  It also shows the type of structure that my friends and I try to breed into our birds.  Note that even when the bird is at rest, it has an upright stance that gives the bird an aura of health and confidence.

Monday, September 15, 2014


Below is a video that I received from Setiady.  The recording is of  JL58 that Setiady bought from Jeffrey Low last year.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Incubators, brooders and the Inca Lori 10

Anyone who is seriously interested in breeding shamas should consider getting an incubator and a brooder.  Even if he intends to let the parents hatch the eggs and raise the young, having the incubator and brooder will provide peace of mind in the knowledge that essential equipment will be readily available for those times that the parents may abandon the eggs or chicks. 

When I decided to breed shamas many years ago, I bought a Brinsea Octagon 10 incubator with auto-turn cradle.  It was purchased in Singapore from Brinsea's authorised distributer, Asby Pte Ltd, which is owned by SB Ang ("Asby").  

I have bought all my incubators, brooders and accessories from Asby. In all the years I have known him, he has always been extremely helpful and customer oriented.  I can go to him with any question I have regarding his products and he will always try to help.  Even when a model is no longer in production and spare parts for it are not available, Asby will try to see if the parts from a later model may be suitable. A manufacturer that has the good fortune to appoint a distributer such as Asby has secured a business "partner" who will generate goodwill for the brand.

Coming back to the Octagon 10 - it is a small incubator with a capacity for 10 poultry eggs. My machine performed its intended function except for one small quirk.  The egg tray fitted too tightly into the incubator shell and each time I inserted or removed it, there would be a slight jolt, depending on how carefully the operation was performed. I was always concerned that the eggs would be damaged though there was never any mishap.

Nevertheless, having to be overly careful each time the incubator is opened or closed is not something that I look forward to.  After using the Octagon 10 for many years, I replaced it with the Octagon 20.  This incubator works very well and many shama eggs were successfully hatched in it.  I still have it.

Together with the Octagon 10, I purchased a Brinsea still-air hospital cage or brooder. It was a simply constructed enclosure that was sold with 2 types of sliding doors.  There was an acrylic door that could be closed to retain heat and humidity in the brooder and also a wire-mesh door which was probably intended for the brooder to be used as some sort of cage.  

The temperature in the still-air brooder could be accurately controlled but the brooder did not come with any device to generate humidity or to regulate it.  It was left to the user to make his own arrangements. I did so by placing 2 large trays of water on the floor of the brooder.  Over this, I fitted the supplied wire-mesh door, which proved to be a secure base on which I could place additional trays of water (with or without sponges).  By this method, the relative humidity ("RH") could be controlled over a wide range. I became very familiar with the still-air brooder.

Eventually, I also purchased the Brinsea TLC-40 brooder.   It has a fan located at the centre of its ceiling that blows quite a strong current of air downwards. I have never come across any complaints about this but I was uncomfortable about having a strong breeze blowing directly on to the chicks.  To remedy this, I taped a large piece of plastic just below the fan to deflect the breeze towards the rear wall and away from the chicks.  I also placed trays of water (with or without sponges) below the rear wall to enable the air to blow over them.  Asby did provide me with a Brinsea humidity module.  I tested it but never really used it with the Octagon 20 as I preferred to rely on the trays of water.

In my idle moments, I may while away the time trying to think of ways to improve aspects of my shama breeding and keeping.  This invariably leads me to visit the Internet to see what I can learn.  Amongst the things that I may look up are the brands and models of incubators and brooders and the reviews and comments of users.

I often visit the falconry and parrot forums for whatever insight I may get on breeding birds.  There is always an active discussion going on in the forums on the merits and demerits of various brands of incubators and brooders.  I found out that the Grumbach incubators are generally reliable but there may be pockets of uneven temperature in the incubator.  
The Lyons Turn-X is an old favourite with senior members of the falconry forum who have made modifications to improve its use but the online comment was that it was over-priced for what it did.  A brand that received favourable comments was A.B. Newlife, which is from the UK. Unfortunately, there is no distributer for it in Singapore.

Rcom is a brand of incubators and brooders from Korea. I never tried the incubators but I did get an Rcom brooder from Asby.  It has all the bells and whistles that any breeder could wish for.  However, the big “fault” with the model that I purchased was that the RH could not be increased over 55%.  Apparently, the brooder was designed for parrots for which an RH of 55% is sufficient and the built-in computer software program would cut-off the humidity once it reached this level.  I must emphasise that this “fault” was with an older model Rcom. The specifications of the present models state that the RH is adjustable from 40-70%.

Amongst the reviews and comments on forums, I came across the reviews of the Inca 100 incubator from Israel.  The simplicity of the design attracted me.  There was a somewhat unfavourable review of it regarding manufacturer support and problems with the incubator but the post was in 2008 and I felt that there should have been improvements since then. The review can be read here:

The other comments and reviews of the Inca 100 that I came across on the parrot internet forums were generally positive.  As Asby is the local agent and I trusted Asby to stand by the products he sells, I had no hesitation in buying the incubator.

When I received the incubator and tried it out, I noted that there might be a concern regarding the turning of the eggs which are placed between rails. The rails gently travel from one side of the incubator to the other and back again, rolling the eggs as it does so. With the larger parrot eggs there would be no problem but the shama eggs are quite small and there was the possibility that the narrower end might get stuck under the moving rails and be damaged. To temporarily resolve this, I placed a thick cardboard on the floor of the incubator and considered getting a piece of glass to raise the height of the floor between the rails.

I mentioned my concern to Asby.  He checked with Inca who seemed to have known of the potential problem.  They responded immediately that they had an acrylic board that would raise the height of the floor between the rails by 6mm.  I ordered the plastic board and the problem was resolved. Its price was about US$45.00.  

Nowhere on the Inca website or in its manuals is there any mention of the problem that could arise if small eggs are incubated in the Inca 100 or that Inca could supply the board. As the board is essential for incubating small eggs, it would have been nice if Inca could have included it with the incubator.  Alternatively, Inca should have made known to its distributers that the board is available so that they can order it with the incubator.

After successfully using the Inca 100, I purchased the Inca Lori 10 brooder through Asby.  I had expected that the humidity of the brooder could be controlled as with the incubator.  This was not so.  Even with the sliding cover of the water container being fully opened, the RH was about 55% and this is nowhere near the humidity required for brooding softbill chicks in the tropics  In fact, even if the water container was completely removed from the incubator, the RH would still be about 55%.  To increase the RH, trays of water needed to be placed in the brooder and I did this.

Notwithstanding the above, I was generally satisfied with the performance of the Lori 10.  The main reason for this was that the digital temperature readout was very accurate.  However, I felt that using trays of water to achieve the required humidity was too primitive and used up valuable floor space.

Subsequently, when I decided to get another incubator and brooder, I informed Asby that I would buy the Inca incubator and brooder if the RH of the brooder could be improved.  The maximum RH that I required would not exceed 80% and I asked Asby to see if Inca could achieve this at a temperature of 37.3C. If this could be done, I would also wish to modify the existing Lori Brooder and I requested Asby to import the parts and undertake the modification. As usual, Asby was helpful.  He said that he would contact Inca and see what could be done.

On August 11, I received this email from Asby:

Hi David, 
By adding a sponge (or Blotting paper) in the water container
Temp 37.3CRH 80.3
SB Ang

Attached to the email were 3 photographs provided by Inca of the temperature, RH and their suggested modification.  The last photo is shown below:

I was disappointed. The proposed "modification" was not much different from what I was already doing with trays of water and could not be considered an improvement.  In fact, the insertion of a sponge or blotting paper in the water container would prevent the cover from being closed and this would make it more difficult to adjust the humidity. I requested Asby to ask Inca to try to come up with something better.

On August 13 Asby wrote to me

Dear David,
Inca has another solution for raising the RH by adding a small Fan on the water container as per the photos attached.
With this addition you could control the RH by opening and closing the glass lid on the water container.
They are making more tests for this option.
If this idea meets your expectations, they will find a way to connect this Fan to 12V.
SB Ang

I was happy that Inca was taking the trouble to propose a modification and replied to Asby on August 13 as follows:

Hi Asby,
Two things. Can the cover of the container be slid back to the full extent when it is in the brooder? Can the fan be easily removed so that the container can be washed?

I followed up with another letter to Asby later on the same day:

Hi Asby,
Inca's suggestion that there be a small fan attached to the water container (or close to it) is a really good idea.
Arising from Inca's suggestion, please request Inca to consider the alternative proposal below:
1.  Suspend a platform by rods attached to the ceiling of the brooder so that the platform is several inches below the centre fan.  The platform will be permanently affixed to the ceiling.
2.  The water container will be placed on the platform and should be approximately the same size as the fan.
3.  The water container should have a lid to control the humidity.
4.  The water container can be removed at will for cleaning.
An additional benefit of the above method is that the air from the fan will be dispersed and will not blow directly onto the chicks.
Best regards,

The following day, I received from Asby, a copy of Inca's response to my suggestions.  I must say it surprised me. It read:

August 14
From: Aviva Vishnia
Subject: Re: Inca Brooder Humidity

Dear SB Ang,
We thank you for your suggestions but it is not practical.
DMP allocated hours of engineering to find the best solutions for
increasing the humidity in the Brooder for your request.
Unfortunately we could not invest any more time in it on our account.
Kind regards,

So that was it.  The manufacturer was not prepared to help. Inca didn't bother to say why my suggestions were not practical or if it was prepared to make the modification that it had earlier suggested. What seemed clear was that Inca would not support its products and resolve a customer's genuine problem. Inca's attitude seemed to be that the rectification of the problem was none of its concern.   I was reminded of the unfavourable review that the Inca 100 had received back in 2008.

I was left to my own devices.  I could either try to make the modification myself or continue to use trays of water and sponges. I decided to take the brooder to my local hardware shop to see Mr. Kuah and ask for his help. I explained what I wanted.

Mr. Kuah immediately pointed out that it was not practical to insert screws into the metal plate of the brooder.  He noted that it was a heated plate and there are electrical wires entering it.  He advised that if screws are drilled into the heat plate, the wires might be short circuited.

Mr. Kuah suggested an alternative and very practical solution. He would remove the existing 4 screws that attached the fan to the heat plate and replace it with slightly longer screws.  This would enable a 3mm thick acrylic plate, with a laser-cut hole in the centre for the fan, to be affixed to the base of the fan. A platform could then be attached to the acrylic plate to hold the water container.

Below is a photo of the modification that my local hardware shop proposed and made to the brooder.  The total cost was about US$30.00.

Initial trials with the modified humidity module of the Inca Lori brooder have been extremely positive.  By opening or closing the sliding cover of the water container, the RH can be varied from 55% to well above 80%.  The humidity module is very efficient and does not need frequent topping-up with distilled water which I use to reduced mineral deposits on the fan and sensor.   Even sliding the cover open a few millimetres will result in an appreciable increase in the humidity within the brooder.

A feature of the Lori brooder that is not mentioned in the Inca literature and that I had not noticed until after I had made the modification, is that the movement of air in it is different from the Brinsea, Rcom and presumably other brands as well.

In the Brinsea, warm air blows from the overhead fan directly on to the chicks.  The Rcom has a slightly better system in that the fan is located in the side of the brooder, some distance from the floor so that the air blows over the containers with the chicks. The air flow is also not as strong as the Brinsea's.

The air flow of the Lori brooder seems to be unique.  Rather than blow out air, the fan sucks air from the brooder in the nature of an "exhaust fan".  The air is then spread over the top of the heat-plate before gently descending and reaching the chicks. It seems to me that the Inca brooder has a superior moving air system.

To test the effectiveness of the modified Lori brooder, I transferred one newly hatched shama chick from the Inca 100 to it.  I needed to be sure that the brooder would work well and in accordance with my aim that the chicks that are incubator hatched and raised in a brooder must be as healthy and strong as those hatched and raised by the parents.

For this to happen, 2 conditions need to be fulfilled. The environment for raising the chicks in the brooder must be at its optimum and the quality and quantity of the food must be right.  The chicks spend only about 4 days in the brooder.  After this time, if they are doing well, there is no longer the need for a brooder and they should be taken out.

Below is the photo of the chick on the morning of the 4th day. It was doing well.  At hatching, it would have weighed below 2.5 gms. I do not know the actual weight as I had not weighed it. At 4 days, it weighed a whopping 17 gms.  On average, it had doubled its weight every day.  All indications so far are that the modified brooder is working well.

After taking out the 4 days old chick from the brooder, I did not place other chicks in it.  Instead, I have spent some idle time experimenting with various sized containers to try to determine the ideal size of the humidity module.

Initial conclusions are that the module will be even more effective if the size of the water container is reduced by about 40%.  The apparatus holding it can also be correspondingly reduced in size. Amongst other benefits, I think the result will be reduced obstruction of the air flows in the brooder.

I have some ideas to improve the humidity module to increase its efficiency and make it aesthetically more pleasing.  There is no hurry, the present setup is working well and I would like to see if there are hidden problems that will come to light with continued and prolonged use.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


The video is of Ballet Dancer's juvenile male offspring partway through its moult under Jeffrey's care. The accompanying closeup of the tails show that they are practically flawless.

Jeff had sold the bird to a friend who was unable to take immediate delivery and Jeff had agreed to moult the bird for him.

The video shows what is achievable when there is knowledge and understanding of a bird's needs during the moult.  These include the provision of a suitable environment and care and proper nutrition before and during the moult.

Jeff takes great care to ensure that the moulting bird's environment is correct.  This is the time when it's metabolism should be geared solely to growing the feathers that it will wear for the next 8 to 10 months.  Its surroundings must therefore be conducive to moult and must not be too warm.  There must also be sufficient humidity with no competing shamas close-by that could stress it.

From the video it can be seen that although the bird is in moult, it is alert and full of energy. It is not displaying and singing its challenging territorial song as Jeff has not placed a competing shama close-by.  Jeff of course knows that this should not be done during the moult. To do so would result in the moulting bird getting a rush of the hormone, testosterone, and this will likely adversely affect the hormones that are required for a good moult.

The feather quality in the photo shows what can be achieved with outstanding nutrition for a captive shama.  There are no stress lines whatsoever in the tails.  To assist the feathers (especially the tails) to grow to their full potential, Jeff provides a daily bath for the birds.  This softens the growing feathers and the preening during and after the bath helps them to grow.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Update on dry food for shamas

Shamas that live in the wild always seem to be in good health and physical condition.  During the molting season when the birds are having a change of feathers and not looking at their best, they are elusive and not easily seen.  Those that respond to the calls of a decoy (picard) have shiny feathers and I have not seen a wild-caught shama with scissors-tails.  This is not so with birds kept in captivity where a great number do not appear to be in top condition when compared to their brethren in the wild.

I am sure that the main cause of captive shamas not being at their best is that the food they get in captivity does not contain all the nutrients that they need and which they are able to get in the wild.  For instance, if our shamas are fed “live” food, these are usually limited to one or more of frogs, fish, crickets, mealworms, grasshoppers or pineapple beetles.  The limited live food just does not provide them with the large variety of insects and other live food that the birds in the wild consume.

For our captive birds to do well, the best that we can do for them is to feed them a dry food that has been found to be suitable and supplement it with some live food.  What is the “best dry food” for our shamas.

There is the food made by John Yim which is an old staple that has proved itself over more than 50 years.  When I first started in shamas, I was amazed at the top condition of his birds.  He fed them his dry food with very little supplementation of live food.  I used to keep him company while he made the food and learnt much from him.  John’s food is nowadays available from only one source that I know of, the bird-shop in Clementi.  Possibly for this reason, it is not widely used in Singapore.

For many years I used the brand “Chee Seng” and my birds did reasonably well on the food.  This is no longer available.

Some of the owners of shamas tried feeding them the commercially available pellets that are formulated for chickens.  The locally available chicken pellets did not prove viable in the long run and the shamas seemed to suffer from feather plucking, lack of form etc.  

A food that seems to have chicken pellets as its main ingredient is “Emas 10”.  I understand it is widely used in Malaysia.  Recently, I have heard reasonably good reports of the use of very dark chicken pellets that is available in northern Malaysia.  I have not tried it on my shamas.

Several years ago, a brand by the name of P28 was introduced to the local market.  The preliminary reports that I came across were favourable and my friends and I tried it over a period of 3 months or so.  Our birds did well and I gave a glowing review of the food on my blog.  Unfortunately, our birds began to do less well after this time and we all stopped using the food.

I think about a year ago, a brand by the name of Molossian was introduced to the Singapore market. The main ingredient was stated to be giant earthworm with protein of 55% and fat 12%.  I bought a tub and tried it on one of my birds. I did not buy another tub. For a time, the bird-shops carried it on their shelves but it does not seem to be available anymore.

Dried insects based food.  I have tried several brands but they were all found to be lacking.  The main problem with such foods is that good quality dried insects is prohibitively expensive and the insects used in such foods may not be top grade.

What then is the best shama food that is available from the shops.  For me, it must be Three Coins.  This food comes in 2 grades with the higher priced food in tubs.  Get the food in packets.  It is lower priced than that sold in tubs but the reason for getting it is that the birds prefer it and do better on it.

Recently, I started using a food that Jeffrey Low recommended that I try.  Preliminary results are good but I hesitate to recommend it without first carrying out extensive trials.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Why birds sing.

[The post below is largely taken from my response to an email from NGTC sometime ago.]

It has long been accepted that birds sing to conquer territory, to defend territory or to woo a mate but is there some other reason why birds sing?

In his book, “Why Birds Sing - a journey into the mystery of bird song”, the musician David Rothenberg suggests that birds may also sing because they are happy, much as humans do. He describes the song of certain birds and considers why they sing.  Here is Rothenberg’s description of the shama’s song:

“Soon he’s [the Taveta golden weaver] eclipsed by the white-rumped shama, a virtuoso explorateur.  One new phrase after another.  Anything we play is just a challenge for him.  An orange thrush of the tropics, this guy keeps coming back with a new variation.  Whatever we feed him, he has a louder retort.  Every song he sings seems brand new.”

Wait a minute, I thought these songs were innate,” I ask Pestel.  “Don’t’ these guys need just one simple song sung as well as possible to do the job?”

            “Calls,” whispers Pestel. “Bird calls are innate.  Those are the sounds they make with specific meanings: ‘Where are you?’ or  ‘I’m hungry’ or ‘watch out, a hawk’s circling above.’  Songs are something else again.  If they’re complicated, they have to be learned.  And the birds can only learn these songs at certain sensitive times in their lives.  Songs help them stand their ground and lure in mates, but they, like our music, don’t have such a clear message”

[DDS: I don’t think it is correct that birds can only learn complex songs at certain sensitive times in their lives.  I accept that the best time to learn new songs is when the birds are very young or during the molt.  However, my experience is that an “open-ended learner”, such as the shama, can learn new songs at almost any time.  I have come across shamas that were already in good form that were able to learn the song of another species after listening to its song for only 5 minutes.]

Here is Rothenberg’s description of the stages of the song learning process:

“One of the early meanings of the verb to record was “to learn a tune.” Ornithologist Daines Barrrington, in the late eighteenth century, used the word to explain how birds learned to sing. “The first sound is called chirp, the next is a call; the third sound is called a recording, which a young bird continues to do for ten or eleven months til able to execute every part of his song. When perfect he is said to sing his song round.”

Rothenberg finally ends the book with these words, “Why do birds sing? For the same reasons we sing – because we can.  Because we love to inhabit the pure realms of sound.  Because we must sing – it’s the way we have been designed to tap into the pure shapes of sound…..”

My own experience seems to confirm Rothenberg’s hypothesis – that sometimes the shama sings for no other reason than that it enjoys doing so. I briefly consider below the different types of the shama’s song as I have known them.

The sub-song
The sub-song is usually heard in the late afternoons and especially on rainy days. The notes are much more variable than its loud song.  While pleasant to the human ear, it seems unstructured and appears to be random warbling and not as coherent as the primary song. 

It is not often appreciated that there are different levels of loudness in the sub-song of the shama.  Usually, it is heard as a soft twitter when the shama is at rest but it can also be quite loud, though not as loud as when the bird sings its territorial song.

The adult male shama will also sing its sub-song during the molt.  This is the time when it best learns new songs after the juvenile stage.  In Indonesia, the serious hobbyist will surround his molting shama with other songbirds during the molt so that the shama can learn to imitate their songs and incorporate them into its repertoire.

It would seem that the shama uses its sub-song as a learning tool to learn new songs or to recollect tunes that it might not have used for some time. Owners of shamas have often commented that after the molt, the bird has new tunes and he has no idea where or how the tunes were picked up.

It is generally accepted that that the young shama practices its song learning by vocalizing its sub-song.  The youngest shama that I have come across singing its sub-song was 14 days of age - only 3 days after it had left the nest.  Clearly, it was learning its song in the same way that a child would learn a poem or song by reciting the words over and over again.

I have also often come across adult shamas that sing their sub-song when they are not in molt.  The bird may sit on its perch without moving much for an hour or more, singing its sub-song.  It seems to find this soothing and calming, at least this is the impression I get.  This brings to mind Rothenberg’s view that a bird may sing because it enjoys doing so.

The in-form shama may also sing what seems to be a cross between a sub-song and loud song when it is alone.  Such songs may be sung throughout the day, without seeming to tire the bird.

The aggressive song
This is a loud territorial song that the shama in good form sings when it is confronted by one or more other shamas that challenge it, such as at a shama gathering (chai tio).  I think all the noise excites it. The white patch of feathers on its rump is raised and it is alert and ready to do battle. The song is a ringing challenge to the other birds that it is defending its territory. 

We need to appreciate that the shama is territorial in nature i.e. it requires a territory to mate and to raise its young and it will try to protect this territory against intruding shamas.  For the caged shama, this would normally be the home of its owner or the aviary where it is housed. 

If a strange shama is brought into the home, the resident shama in good form will react by singing its aggressive song to herald that a stranger is intruding into its territory and to drive out the stranger. A shama that is taken to a chai tio, is outside its territory.  There is therefore no need to protect it. In fact, the shama that is not used to being brought out of the home, may feel intimidated in the strange surroundings and may not sing at all.

In the case of a bird in a cage that performs at a chai tio, I would think that it has come to regard the cage and the area around it as its territory.  If this is correct, the shama at a chai tio that responds to the challenge of the other shamas, treats the cage and its surrounding space as its territory and tries to defend it with its song.  This could explain why most shamas that sing well at home fail to perform, or to perform as well, at the chai tio.

Owners are often surprised that their shama which sings well at home, may not sing at all when brought to the chai tio.  Once we understand that the bird finds no need to sing as it is not defending its territory, we can take steps to train our birds to accept the cage as its territory and to protect it, provided they have the strength of character to do so.

A shama that is intimidated by other shamas may show signs of stress. A clear indication of stress is when the shama fluffs out its body feathers and adopts a posture that suggests that it is prepared to fight.  In fact, this is a defensive, and not an aggressive posture.  Whilst the posture seems threatening, it is a sham and a shama that does not have a strong character adopts it to try to bluff its opponent into thinking that it will defend itseld.  When I see this in a male shama, I reject it as a potential breeder.  In consequence, none of my shamas have this trait.  If they are not in form they may not react to the other shamas but they do not fluff.
The alarm song
When the shama is startled by a sound that it may regard as threatening, it sings a song that is loud and which suggests that the bird is excited.  This is an alarm song.  When this song is heard, all the other shamas within earshot will also sing this type of song.  The songs will usually last for a few minutes before dying down to allow normal life to resume.

The loud song that the shama sings when it is in good form
A shama that is in good form will sing for much of the day even though its cage may be in a secluded place in the home and there are no shamas nearby to challenge it.  It is possible that the shama is singing to announce to other shamas that this is its territory.  Another reason, which may be just as valid, is that the shama in good form feels exuberant and expresses himself in song.

The nest-box song
When the birds are paired and before the female lays her eggs, the male may spend quite some time in the nest-box.  Whilst in the box, the male will usually sing what seems to be a sub-song.  It is very soft and seems to invite the female to come to the box.  The female often does so.

I have also heard the twittering song that the male shama sings just when it is about to mate with the female.  The mating that I have seen (and I have seen it many times) usually takes place in the early morning or late evening.  The female may be on a lower branch than the male.  Without prior display, the male suddenly flutter down to the female all the time singing his twittering song somewhat similar to the song that he sings while in the nest-box.  The mating itself lasts a second and it is over and so is the song.

The aggressive love-making song
A male that has been for some time with a female and seems to be completely compatible with it may suddenly seem to attack it.  There is a furious onslaught during which the male will sing a very aggressive loud song when he is a few feet away from the female and what seems to be an aggressive twittering song when he is close to her.  He will chase her and when he is close to her he will peck aggressively at her. 

Close observation will show that he is pecking at her body that is covered by her wing feathers.  He does not peck at her head which could cause her damage or even kill her.  The whole episode may last a minute or so. At the end, the male will fly away and rest on a branch whilst he pants in exhaustion.  The female fluffs her ruffled feathers and goes about her way as though nothing has happened.  No mating takes place during the encounter.


This post sets out the songs of the shama that I have heard in the bird’s various moods.  The melodious and tuneful nature of the songs makes the shama one of the foremost songbirds anywhere in the world.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Juvenile shamas

DDS267, bred by DDS and owned by Michael Leong:

DDS287 at 42 days:

Friday, August 8, 2014

Samyong (Bare-throated Whistler) for sale

I intend to sell one of my Samyongs as I have too many birds. The price is S$2,000.00, which is the same price I paid when I acquired it more than a year ago.  During the time that I have had the bird it has improved greatly in its song, condition and tameness.

It has recently had its annual molt and the form is rising rapidly. The bird is also in tip-top condition.

Below is a video of the bird that I recorded 5 months ago.  

If you are interested, please email me at and provide me with your handphone number so that I can call you.