Thursday, January 22, 2009

Shama sub-species

Hello David

Greetings and best wishes from a cold Holland and from a cold Europe.

It’s great to see how Europe, so divided only decades ago, is turning into a loving peaceful community with one currency and one parliament. The last barrier is that we do not as yet have our own European president. Let’s hope for a Hindu Asian woman.

First a rather personal story about last years breeding results. Beauty and Madonna did very well nest after nest, he very sad thing was that I saw Madonna with a coco fibre sticking out of her bill last October I tried to catch her but she outwitted me and a week later she died. Our other couple LT and Eva could not bring their offspring up so I called up a friend Ime who is really a bird whisperer and he managed with your help to bring up two hand reared male shama’s from incubator till grown up. I have kept 2 males from our first nest and a female from the first nest so this year we have three couples. And 2 males for selection.

Another new thing we did was building upbringing cages for the newborn and we now have 9 learning cages for Shama where each young could learn how to sing.

One off the young males turned out to be a fabulous singer - he can even sing two melodies at the same time. I have no knowledge about his brother because he’s the teacher of the two hand reared males of my friend Ime but I expect he’s also a great singer.

As you know Shama lovers in Germany are making a site specially about Shama.
For some reason the Sumatra (tricolor) kind is the most popular in Europe.
There are lots of people I have to disappoint that their beloved birds are not tricolor but in my opinion malapernicus. At that time, and that will surprise you they are disappointed not realising they have they same subspecies you are breeding.
And be realistic 95% wants your birds.

So what I want to say: In Europe there is a tendency growing, to see the different subspecies of Shama and the willingness to keep these subspecies from crossbreeding.

In order to comply that effort we need a true description of these two subspecies.
I made a correct discription, as far as I know, of the tricolor which I would ask you for your comment.

And I would ask you for an description off the malapernicus. I know it’s a hell of a job and maybe not your cup of tea, but who else to ask?

Hallo Thomas.

Leider ist mein Deutsch etwas swierig so mache ich weiter in Englisch.

It’s so much easier and lesser use of a dictionary.

Like you, we, me and my wife love keeping and breeding Shama’s and particularly the tricolor.

Of course I had a close look at your Shama site and noticed a lot of attention goes to the tricolor on your site. Because we made it our goal to breed the best 100% tricolor I may say with some modesty that I’m a bit of an expert considering the tricolor.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about the Sumatra shama and I think I can learn you how to recognize a Sumatra shama not only by it’s looks but also by it’s behaviour.

Why do I think some clarification is needed? That’s because I saw some photo’s on your site with the name Sumatra shama but they are sure not Sumatra’s.

The looks of an Sumatra shama Copsyphus tricolor:

First of all there is no standard Sumatra shama. Sumatra is one of the largest Islands in the world the length North South is more than 2000 km. So it’s understandable there are differences in size and even in song. Nevertheless all shama’s from Sumatra belong to the subspecies Copsychus Tricolor.

For as far as I know there are three types of tricolour. In the South of Sumatra near the Krakatou lives a large type with 12 cm tail length known as the Lampung.
The Lampung is by the locals not very desirable because it’s singing lack’s comparing to the next type the Medan. The Medan lives as the name says in the surrounded aeries of the city of Medan. It’s a bit larger than medium shama size the tail is stiff and 18 till 24 cm in length. This type is highly desirable due to it’s perfect singing ability. In the North of Sumatra lives a smaller type from witch I have no further knowledge. What I do know there is also a tricolor type with a large bill but that is something we still have to find out.

The name tricolor is and should be the first thing to notice and to select the true Sumatra shama. Tricolor is Latin for three colours Black White and the red of the breast. As soon as you see brown or grey in a Shama it’s no tricolor. So If I have a look at the photo’s of your site, Bild 16 sorry but that is for sure no Tricolor also the female’s have only black white and the red of the breast. What they miss is the shine of the feathers.

I have to make one exception for the young females before the second moult they are a bit greyish but they turn into black after second moult. The female as shown on photo 16 is in my opinion from Thailand so probably a malapernicus 17 and 18 are not showing their wings so I can’t say.

19 and 20 nice females but not tricolor I think also malapernicus from Thailand
21 and 22 are Davids birds these are definitely malapernicus that’s the subspecies David breeds. 23 24 and 25 they are showing brown in the wings and the tail fethers are a bit to thin so maybe a cross breed but not 100% tricolor 26 this one could be a tricolor. 27 28 29 and 30 are beautiful examples of the Sumatra Copsyphus tricolor. Medan type

Typical behaviour of the Medan tricolor. The tricolor is in consideration to other Shama subspecies a less aggressive with lesser display. If you have a look at David’s site or they other shama video’s on You tube or on the site of

The Malayan Shama site you see how these birds show much tail movement.
The Medan tricolor sits much calmer throwing all his energy in his song his song is continuously all year long even during the moult. His song is when he is taught correctly in his first month very diverse and he has a great ability to learn from other birds like the black bird etc. One very special item is that he is able to sing double tones. I even have one young male tricolor named Lodewijk who is able to sing 2 melodies at the same time, you just don’t know what you hear. Another characteristic for The Medan tricolor is his dislike for dry food a Medan tricolor would rather die from hunger before eating something other as insects or little fish or even little mouse. One of my friends succeeded in teaching Medans to eat special dry food but only by taking the mealworms away.

The female Medan tricolor can also sing almost as well as the male - not as loud as his battle song but very beautiful and it’s also one of my objective’s to have a male and female sitting next to each other on the same branch singing together. I have seen this on a video of one of my Indonesian Shama frieds so I know that it’s possible.

The Medan tricolor will have 3 or 4 eggs that she will hatch in 11 days. The chicks will leave the nest after 11 days and than the female will start her next nest in a different place after 4 to 5 days, the male has a very important role by bringing up the young birds while the mother is breeding.

The malapernicnus can lay up to six eggs and begins her next nest after 10 or 12 days.

I’m sure there is a lot more to tell about these beautiful songbirds.
But I hope I helped you in your search for the true tricolour.

Wish you great success with your site
Arjan de Weger

At last David a video impression of the first Dutch Chai last autum

Wish you well

1 comment:

  1. hi, my name is Alberto. i'm mexican.
    my english is not good, hahaha
    por eso escribire en español

    yo quiero comprar un shama, pero no se en donde conseguirlo, vivo en veracruz, mexico