Friday, October 16, 2009

2009 Breeding Season

I had a bumper harvest of 40 shama chicks last year, half of which were male. The work was just too much for my home and for this year, I had decided that there would be minimal breeding and only 1 to 2 specially selected pairs would be bred.

Apache and Super Model’s Daughter’s offspring

The first pairing was Apache and Super Model’s daughter. This pair had produced only 1 male chick (Cochise) in 2008. He was outstanding in character, display and song and my friends, Michael and Jeffrey, expressed interest in each of them having a male chick from this pair. I of course tried to oblige. Altogether, I took 4 nests from the pair this year. There was only 1 male from each nest of chicks.

The first male, Funkie, went to Jeffrey. He proved to be almost all that we could have hoped for with first molt tails of 11 1/4". I kept the 2nd male, DDS243. Until 2 weeks ago, I thought that DDS243 was not of the same quality as Funkie. The main reason was that he had a large chest and seemed to be the Medan type of shama. Surprisingly, the chest has slimmed and he now looks like any other Malaysian type shama. He primary tails after the first molt seem to be slightly more than 9". Like Cochise and Funkie, he is fierce and also has beautiful song.

I had molted DDS243 in a cage instead of in the aviary. as I usually do with my birds To ensure that he was not disturbed during the molt, his cage was covered with a light coloured cloth at all times except when he taking his bath or his cage is being cleaned. His cage cloth was seldom removed during the molt as he would immediately start to display and sing even if his cage was being carried.

The 3rd clutch of 2 chicks (a male and a female) from Apache and SuperModel's daughter went to Michael. The male looks promising but it is too early to be sure how he will turn out.

I had wanted to separate Apache and his mate after the 3rd clutch. However, having seen how Funkie was turning out I decided to take one more clutch from them. Unfortunately, I was replanting my front garden and there was constant movement of 6 gardeners around the aviary during the time that the female was sitting. On the day that the first eggs from the 4th nest were due to hatch, I was told on returning home that 2 of the eggs had hatched but the parents had removed the chicks and placed them on the aviary floor. They were dead.

There was 1 egg left in the nest. As the parents would probably have also killed the chick that hatched from the egg if it was left in the nest, I removed the egg for hatching in the incubator. Before placing the egg in the incubator, I checked to make sure that there was indeed a chick that was about to hatch.

I first candled the egg. I could tell from the dark mass in the egg that there was an almost fully developed chick. To confirm that the chick was alive, I prepared a bowl of slightly warm water and placed the egg inside. After the ripples caused by the placement of the egg in the water had subsided, I noted gentle ripples moving outward from the egg. These ripples are caused by the unhatched chick moving in the egg and this in turn causing the egg to move. Satisfied that the chick was alive, I placed the egg in the “hospital cage” that has proved itself in my use for the past 10 years.

Below is a photograph of the hospital cage with the egg in the container.


At about 1 a.m. that night, I happened to be awake and looked into the incubator. The chick had just hatched. I knew from past experience that there would be no need to feed the chick until much later in the morning if it was kept quiet and in the dark. The chick was fed in the morning and this is what he looked like on the 2nd day:


The chick has grown well and he has been transferred to an aviary for exercise to ensure his full and proper development. Before I leave off, I should acknowledge that although my dear wife has no interest in my birds, she ungrudgingly takes care of the chicks from day 1 until they are able to eat on their own when the need arises. I am really grateful to her.

Ballet Dancer’s Progeny

The other pair that I bred this year was Ballet Dancer and a female that had not been tried with him in previous years. I took only 2 nests from him and obtained 2 male chicks. The chick from the first nest seems really special and seems superior in structure to Apache’s offspring.

The other male chick from Ballet Dancer is still too young to access his potential accurately.

After 2 nests I separated Ballet Dancer and his mate although they were still in top breeding condition. In retrospect, in view of how his eldest male chick is turning out, I must say that I have some regret at having done so.

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