Thursday, May 15, 2014

Shama chicks

Flame and his mate are proving to be very productive. Below is a photo of their latest offspring. The female laid a clutch of 4 eggs. All were fertile and all hatched.

When there is a pronounced difference in the size of the chicks in a clutch that I am hand-raising, I separate them as seen in the photo. Otherwise, there is every likelihood that the older chicks will get on top of the younger chicks which may suffocate. In a day or two, when the chick at the top right is bigger and stronger, I will transfer him to the container with the chick on the left. To avoid overcrowding, I do not place more than 2 or 3 chicks in a container.

The 2 chicks at the bottom of the photo hatched on Tuesday morning. The chick at the top left hatched yesterday morning and the chick at the top right hatched yesterday at 2.30 pm.  There is slightly more than a day's difference between the older chicks and the youngest but the earlier chicks are almost twice the size. There is even a clear difference in size between the single chick on the right and the chick on the left which hatched only a few hours earlier. There is only a one meal difference between the 2 chicks. The chicks show how quickly they can grow when their environment (temperature and humidity) and nutrition are correct.

This is what happens at hatching. The chick will squeeze itself into the narrower part of the egg and occupy about 60% of it. It will then pierce the membrane separating it from the air sac in the wider part of the egg.  This allows the chick to breath. It will then use its egg-tooth to chip at the egg-shell.  The chip can be seen and felt by running a finger over the egg-shell.  At this stage, the membrane separating the egg from the outside is still not broken.

I made the mistake once of "assisting" the chick by removing a small part of the shell above the air-sac. The chick hatched very quickly after that but there was blood in the shell and a part of the yolk was outside the chick.  As I had no problems with my other chicks, the cause could only be due to the larger hole that prematurely let in humidity.  BTW, the chick survived my bungling.

After the chick has made an initial hole in the shell, it will use its egg-tooth to chip the shell, turning slightly each time until it has chipped around the entire shell.  It will then make repeated heaves of its body upwards against the shell until the top half comes off. The lower part of the chicks body will still be in the bottom half of the shell (the narrower part) and it will eventually struggle out of it.

It will take about 2 1/2 months for a chick to grow to its full juvenile size.

Below are photos of one of my chicks from this year at the age of 33 days.  He looks promising.  Not only does he flick his tails high but, even at this young age, he is already dropping his wings and this is a trait that I am trying to breed true in my strain of shamas. He also has long legs, good posture and a nice head. I also think that he will likely have long tails. At this stage, he seems to have the potential to be a top class shama.


  1. Very nice taimong. Good posture.

  2. Hi Tony, thank you for your comments. The taimong is the grandson of Skyhawk and the son of Falcon. I mated Falcon to Funkie's daughter to try to marry the best characteristics of the Skyhawk and Apache (Funkie's father) lines. So far, I have been impressed with how Falcon's chicks are turning out. I will probably name this taimong, "King David" in honour of a famous bird that I came across.