Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Letter from Greece

2011/9/4 Manos Venianakis <>

Dear Mr. De Souza,

My name is Manos Venianakis and I'm writing from Greece.
I'm an avian culturist currently breeding common canaries,saffron finches and a variety of australian

I recently acquired a pair of shamas.The birds I believe are of the copsychus malabaricus indicus subspecies.could you please verify this?

I was in search of a pair for some time but finding them in Greece was impossible.In the end I had to import the birds 
from Germany and a breeder that was willing to sell a pair after the end of the last breeding season.They're about two years old.
My pair are the only shamas in Greece..I hope that this will soon change and other enthusiasts will follow.

While waiting for the birds the past few months, I had the time to do some research and was lucky enough to come across
 your blog which has become my "bible" regarding shamas.Trully an excellent job there,so please accept my sincere congratulations.

It has been a week now that I have the birds.The male has been into molt since then,which I believe is due to the change of their
environment and the difference in temperature.In Germany,the temps were around 18 celcious,while here in Greece and the isle of
Crete in particular,are currently around 30+ celcious.The birds are kept outdoors.

Strangely, the female does not show any signs of molt.

The former owner kept the pair together all year round and insisted that I did the same in order to avoid future problems in breeding season.
He advised to place a box in the flight for them to sleep in when weather gets colder,the way he kept them in Germany.He also suggested a nest
and nesting material should be placed.

I did that but unfortunatelly, although they're a true pair that have raised chicks,the male twice attacked the female the first couple of days and had to
seperate them.I left the female by herself in the flight to dominate the space and placed the male close to her in a large cage.

By doing this I also had the chance to approach the male in order to make him accept food from hand.The previous owner had never done that but I knew
it was possible with shamas.At the beginning he was wild,attacking the cage bars, wings wide open.Slowly and gently I had him taking the mealworms
from pinches, after 5 days of trials.

He got the message and to my surprise,the bird only yesterday came and sat on my hand which was a delightful treat for me...
The female still is very reluctant but always excited in the presence of live food.

I offer my shamas a variety of live food every morning and afternoon.Mealworms,crickets,grasshoppers,waxworms and guppies.The only live food they were
offered by the previous owner, were mealworms and crickets.They accepted the fish as if they'd always been in their diet,which was very pleasing.
Please note that I breed my own mealworms ,waxworms and guppies.I have also started a programme of breeding my own acquatic frogs,african clawed ones in particular.
The other insects are collected from nature and safe areas not sprayed with insecticides.They've even tried cicadas!

The dry food I offer them is a mixture that I prepare and consists of  the following..
Nutribird pellets,Unikomplet and C19.
Orlux insect patee.
Orlux tropic patee
Claus Green TYPE 2

They are also offered chopped apple and grapes which they seem to like very much.Again note that no fresh fruit had ever been offered to them in Germany!
B complex and multivitamins  along with calcium is on their diet as well.

I send you videos with the birds.I'd appreciate any comments and advice that you may have.Especially on how to handle the agression that occured and how to get the pair together again.
Please feel free to "correct" me if you think I do something wrong.I always seek the best for my birds and shamas are a "new territory" for me..I'd also like to know your opinion regarding the quality
of my pair.

I love my birds and in order to honour you for the valuable knowledge you offer to all us shama enthusiasts, I have named my birds with malayan names..Malik for my boy and Noor for my girl...

Thank you very much for your time,I look forward to hearing from you.
Best regards,

David De Souza via to Manos
show details Sep 5 (2 days ago)
Hi Manos,

I found your email most interesting.  I hope you don't mind me giving my views in point form.

1.  A pair that has been separated for even a short while will treat each other like strangers.

2.  Birds that are strangers to each other should only be released into the same aviary when they are both in breeding condition.  Otherwise, the male will attack the female.

3.  A female in breeding condition will sing and display to the male in an adjoining cage.  If she squats and quivers her wings she is over-ready.  This means that if she is placed in the same aviary as the male and she rapidly builds a nest, at least the first few eggs will be infertile.

4.  A male in breeding condition will display and sing softly to the female which is nearby.  A male that visits a nest-box in the aviary is in breeding condition.  A male that is not in breeding condition will not visit the nest-box.

5.  The male will come into full breeding condition about 1 1/2 months after it completes the molt.  The female, about 1 month.

6.  A sudden change in temperature may cause a "false" molt.  That's why birds that are usually kept indoors should not be transferred outdoors.

7.  Changes in temperature affect birds differently.  Some molt and some don't.  I suppose that's why the female did not molt.

8.  The food that you offer looks fine.  Shamas that have live food readily available may not willingly eat dry food.  For this reason, I feed my non-breeding birds dry food until early evening before offering live food.

9. The most important vitamin for shamas is B complex.  In addition, I also feed a mult-vitamin.

Best regards,


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