Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Here are 2 videos of Sting that I recorded yesterday.

Sting is Flame's son. As can be seen, his form has risen since the last video. He is still very young and has a long way to go to reach top form as he is still not sexually mature and does not react to a female shama when her cage is placed close to his.

I have begun to train him to get used to travel, places and people. He is starting to sing when in the car and this suggests that he is beginning to relax when in the car.  He also does not flutter too much when pedestrians pass by his cage when I take him out.

The difference between his form yesterday and the earlier videos is that he is starting to move about on the perch as part of his display. His song is also much longer. My hope is that he will develop into another "Piston".

The video below is of Alpha's youngest son.  He is bred and owned by Michael. Even at this very young age, he is showing signs of aggression.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Female captive-bred shama

One year old female captive-bred shama, DDS96, bred by DDS and owned by Jeffrey Low:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sting's form is rising nicely.  He has a varied song and his display can be quite eye-catching.  Unlike the earlier video that I posted on this blog, the video below only shows him displaying his tails by raising them high in the air, wagging them 4 or 5 times, and then slowly bringing them down. This display is different from his earlier song and display and I found it interesting.  His form continues to improve though he still does not react to females although he is 15 months old. I think he is maturing slowly and will only realise his full potential after his next moult.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Golden Boy

Below is a video of Golden Boy, nicknamed Ah Boy, shortly after his first molt from juvenile.  He was bred by Michael from Alpha and Killer and given to our friend, William Kwa, who now owns him.

The video shows Ah Boy in his new 28" cage.  He had been in a 26" cage but it was too small for him as his tails tended to hit the sides of the cage.  He had not been displaying much in the 26" cage but there was a big difference once he was transferred to the 28" cage.  He became much more active and his display started to incorporate jumping to the sides of the cage. As his form improves, I have no doubt that his display will further improve.

As a taimong, Ah Boy had the shortest tails of any of the progeny from Alpha and Killer.  His primary tails were only 4.75".  Michael had given him to William who had stressed that he wanted to have a short-tailed bird so that he would not need to have a large cage to house the bird.

Unfortunately!! for William, Ah Boy has turned out to have quite long tails - probably about 11" after the first molt, and the tails may be 13" or more after the 2nd or 3rd molt.

I think he is developing into a wonderful shama. Hopefully, he will turn out to be another "Spider Man" for William.  Many years ago, William had a shama named Spider Man. This wonderful bird would dash to the side, or cling upside down to the top of the cage and blast out his territorial song.

Monday, July 7, 2014

White-rumped shama courtship song

The video below shows the male singing his courtship song to the female shortly after the female was introduced into his aviary. They are both in breeding condition but she is wary of his intentions. After the initial seconds of song, she flies, not away from him, but lands closer to him. She is still unsure if he will attack her and towards the end of the video, she bares her beak at him.

Half-an-hour after the video is recorded, I see him going into the box where he continues to sing to her.  She goes to the perch that is nearest to the box and I know that all is likely to be fine with this pair.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Night shama gathering at Blk 151, Serangoon North, Singapore

Short video recorded on my handphone of last night's shama gathering at Serangoon North. This place is proving to be a favourite gathering place on Thursday nights.  The lights are bright, there are plenty of chairs and the coffee shop is just next door. There were fewer birds than usual last light as the birds were, no doubt, being rested for the night competition at Bishan next weekend.

Friday, June 27, 2014


Young white-rumped shama, "Sting", coming into form after the molt.  He has gained a little weight during the molt which is normal. He should trim down as his form improves.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Vitamin B complex

Over many years, I have advocated that the diet of shamas fed a largely live food diet be supplemented with additional vitamin B complex.  This vitamin is required to assist in the digestion of protein and also has a large effect on the bird's neurological functions. If there is a serious deficiency in the diet, the bird tends to get epileptic type fits.

I had thought that problems of vitamin B deficiency affect only softbills that eat a restricted live food diet.  However, it would seem that even canaries fed a protein rich diet, can suffer from fits.

Below, for easy reference, is a post that I copied from Linda Hogan's blog that was posted on 10 June 2014.  I hope she doesn't mind. The link to her blog "Canary Tales" is on the left column of this page.

Balance Problems

Occasionally, I have had a Border who had balance problems. They may sit with squinted eyes especially when I test them by raising my hand to stress them a bit, display wide tails, jerky head movements, unstable wobbly perching to being unable to maintain an upright perching position to instead laying on their backs on the floor. Invariably these are great looking birds and it just makes me sick to see them have neurological problems.

This year, I have had four cases, all older breeder males. The first one was given all the extras I could think of including daily nestling food and in spite of all my efforts, he died.

When the next three cases presented, being discouraged with the first case, I just put them in my old age cage and thought I would let nature take its course. They were fed my wheat germ oil coated seed which is fortified with vitamins and multiple vitamins in the water three or four days a week and extra plain greens a couple times a week. Very plain diet compared to the breeding and weaning birds.

How surprised I am as these birds did not die but rather look like they never had a problem! Even the one who before being placed in the aging cage was laying on his back! He was an outcross bird and I so wanted to bring in some new blood.. Never have I seen these wobbly birds improve, in the past they have all died sooner or later! As exciting as this is, i will not bred them as the worst thing that can happen is not when a weak bird dies but rather when you save it and breed a whole aviary full of them!

Why these four birds, I ask myself? Normally, I restrict hard boiled egg containing eggfood to paired birds especially Border which for quite some time have seemed to me to be protein sensitive. (It also seemed that if the egg food was strong on egg, the hens either would not feed it or stop feeding after a few days. So this year when I added frozen peas to egg containing nestling food, ever hen fed!)

These problem males had been paired with several hens unsuccessfully and I just kept trying and trying first one hen and them well maybe this one... So they had unlimited egg food first with one hen and then the next.

It seems to me that the problem is not only genetic but manifested when the birds are given too much protein.  There have been some research on protein folding problems as a factor in human neurological problems and perhaps something similar is happening in our birds.  After this experience, I am cutting back on proteins on my Borders limiting egg containing nestling food to birds feeding chicks.

I have also given all my bird extra B vitamins to support good neurological health.


Anonymous said...
Great note on this problem seen many times before. Can I share with OVCA newsletter?
Linda Hogan said...
Please do share it. I have learned that it has been seen in German Rollers and would be interested in hearing what kinds others have seen it in. Hearing about the roller was a surprise as typically they do well on high protein diets.
lisashep said...
Debbie and I had a line of Scots that had this problem. Nothing seemed to help. We have since gotten a new line and have no problems with balance. It is such a heart breaking sickness. Thanks for the information.