Thursday, August 27, 2009

Letter from Belgium

26th August 2009,

Hello David,

I have kept shamas since 2 years ago. Everything I learnt about them was from your site and blog. Lets be honest, if there is somebody that knows his birds on this planet it is you. Thanks very much for your patience of making a wonderful site like yours and teaching us how to care for this beautiful birds. Without that, Ii think there would be a lot of dead shamas in captivity everywhere or not in such good condition.

Well this year I'm trying for the first time to breed shamas. The couple I have is 2 years old and this is the first time they are being bred. I now have 5 little shamas from 20 egs and the female has 5 more egs. One of the eggs was not fertile. The rest were well but the female kills the young when they are born.

I give plenty of live food, buffalos, crickets, red runners, phoenix worms (they don't like this very much) and others. To have success with the breeding, I have to take out the male when the chicks are born otherwise the female kills them. When she throws them out, I put them back until she stops. Well the last time is going better. We will see what happens now with the last eggs.

Now my problem is this, a few days ago between the 4th and 5th egg I noticed that the female cant fly. A few hours after she laid the egg on the flour and I put it back in the nest which I placed on the floor, it was strange that she accepted, amazing.

Today I saw that the female could not fly again. This is the second time this happened. Last time for 4 to 5 days in the beginning of the season this time lucky only 2 days.

I never saw a fight with the male so is this just a small injury on the wing because she gets scared with something? Something wrong in the food that causes he to be too week when laying eggs? Is it possible there is injury as the birds are so fragile with their wings?

I send 3 pictures, one from the aviary with the nest in the normal height, a picture with the nest down and 2 of the chicks. Now that the female is good again, I don't know if it is better to put the nest in the normal position. Very difficult to feed like this. I have to do it ninja - keeping very quiet and low so as not disturb her.

Greetings from Belgium

27th August 2009,

Hi Louis,

Thank you for the kind words.

My guess is that your female shama is not getting enough calcium. This mineral is required not only to make the shell of the eggs but it is also needed for the muscles to function properly. In extreme cases of the calcium being insufficient, the female will lay soft-shelled eggs or she will suffer from egg-binding. The female's inability to fly is also likely to be due to insufficient calcium since without it the muscles will not be able to properly expand and contract.

I note that your live food does not seem to include vertebrates such as fish and baby frogs. It is useful to provide vertebrates as their bones will provide the calcium the bird needs. If it is not feasible to feed such food, I would suggest that you supplement the food with calcium. The most effective is liquid calcium. Spread some on the fingers and wipe it on the insects. Feed calcium not more than 4 times a week since too much calcium can also cause problems.

If there is a deficiency of one mineral, it is likely that other minerals and vitamins may also be lacking. You may therefore want to feed a vitamin and mineral supplement to your birds in addition to calcium.

Best regards,


On Fri, Aug 28, 2009 at 2:28 AM, melro 8 wrote:

Hallo David,

Thank you for writing back. I found it strange that the problem of the female is calcium because I give a very good product that includes calcium, vitamins etc. I give this to all my birds; shamas and other thrushes, but like I said in my other letter, nobody knows better the needs of these birds than you so I'm going to take care of that - more calcium.

I also read that extra vitamin b complex would be better. I bought one product but I didn't like that one. After giving it to the birds, they throw up everything they eat so I'm going to look another. Well my other thrushes get extra calcium not only from the powder but also from earthworms cos they eat a lot of that but my shamas don't like it(or take very little) so I'm going to give some more powder and again some fishes.

Sometime ago,I gave baby trout. The male only kills them but does not eat them. The female eats a few. Starting from tomorrow I'm going to buy more and give occasionally. On the eggs i didn't find nothing unusual until now. The female laid 25 this season. I never had a bird that laid so many. My wife says that she look like a chicken hehe. But yes a lot of the calcium goes into that and the body may be weak after that.

I'm also going to put the nest back to its place for the bird to have more rest. The product I give is Aves-Insect dustingpowder from Aves Products I send 2 pictures, one from the eggs and a funny one from my male shama he likes a lot of his daily sun, my other shamas not so much.

Well sir I don't take any more of your time. It was a pleasure for me to talk with you. I will give news from this last clutch of the season, I hope her hormones are better and that she save more chicks this time(one more of the many things that I learnt from your site).

Best Louis

28th August 2009,

Hi Louis,

Large amounts of calcium are required to make an egg. The calcium must be readily available and must be provided within a very short time. The food that the female consumes during the day will not have sufficient calcium to make the egg and the calcium is in fact drawn down from the bones which is the storage place for calcium that the bird does not require for immediate use.

If the birds consume insufficient calcium, there will be little or no calcium to store in the bones. On the other hand, if the bird consumes a great deal of calcium daily, the message that the brain sends is that calcium is plentiful and there is no need for it to be stored. For this reason, I had advised that calcium should not be fed to the bird more than 4 times a week.

By not feeding calcium 3 days a week, the bird's brain will pass the message that calcium may not always be available and it should be stored in the bones. Whether the bird is fed too much or too little calcium, the effect is the same. There may be insufficient calcium to make the egg in which case the bird will lay a soft-shelled egg. Or, there may be sufficient calcium to make the egg but the bird is so depleted of calcium thereafter that there is insufficient calcium to work its muscles and this results in the bird temporarily losing its ability to fly. The fact that your female is unable to fly after laying the 4th or 5th egg suggests that the cause is calcium deficiency.


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