Thursday, November 21, 2013

Will - Breeding Will

I line-breed my shamas and every single one of them can trace their lineage back to Godfather and his offspring and their offspring since 2001.

The best of my shamas have inherited the ability from Godfather to produce offspring that are as good or better then themselves. Many are prepotent and these birds are much sought after by other breeders.

However, line-breeding requires that the line-bred birds be out-crossed from time to time to avoid the inherent defects that can show up with too much line-breeding.  The great difficulty is to find and obtain a shama (male or female) that can be used as an out-cross and which is prepotent i.e able to pass on the desired genes to their offspring and their subsequent progeny. Such birds are really rare.  Over the years, while the out-crossing have resulted in young, they have not met the standards that I have in mind for my stud birds and I have not bred from them.

Through the kindness of my friend, William Kwa, I obtained a Malaysian wild-caught shama with primary tails of 10.5" which had the characteristics that I was looking for.  I wished to breed from him as he has a trait that I like.  During display in the presence of other male shamas, he has a tendency to jump to the bars of the cage and cling to them while he sang aggressively and slowly waved his tails slowly up and down, as though he is waving a fan. This is not only beautiful and unusual but it will also be less tiring in a competition than a bird that flicks its tails rapidly.

Last year and early this year, I matched Will on separate occasions with 3 of my females.  In the first match, all seemed OK when the birds were introduced.  After the apparent successful introduction, I went to the office.  While I was at work, he killed the female.

In the 2nd and 3rd pairing, I kept a close eye on the birds.  On each occasion, he harassed the females and I had to remove them before he could do damage.

Last month, I introduced another female to him on a Saturday morning so that I could keep an eye on them over the weekend. There were no problems.  The female built a nest and laid eggs.  I did not how many as I did not want to disturb the pair.

She brooded the eggs.  Two of the eggs hatched last Sunday (4 days ago) and another hatched in the late morning on Monday. Later, in the early afternoon on Monday I received a phone call that a chick was on the floor of the aviary but it was still alive.  It was the youngest chick and the parents must have removed it from the nest.

I immediately gave instructions to remove all the chicks.  This is necessary as once the parents throw a chick out of the nest, the tendency is that all the chicks will eventually suffer the same fate. There were a total of 3 chicks and there were no eggs left in the nest so all the 3 eggs had been fertile and had hatched.

The youngest chick was unresponsive and seemed in bad shape. The other 2 were a bit weak. All the chicks were placed in the brooder to warm them for a while before trying to feed them.  After about 20 minutes in the brooder, the chicks were fed but only the 2 eldest opened their beaks for food.  The youngest was unresponsive.

The first photo below shows what the chicks looked like.  The eldest chicks are a day old. There is only a day's difference between them and the newly hatched 3rd chick but the difference in size is substantial.

The 3rd chick died within an hour and I was sorry that I could not save it.  The other two are doing well as can be seen from the photo below that I took this morning.  With a bit of luck, they will continue to do well and I will have Will's progeny so that I can assess Will's potential as a stud.

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