Friday, June 6, 2008

Basic Shama Care

written March 12, 2007

I hope that this article will assist persons beginning in shamas to learn about their care. Below is a summary of what needs to be done to keep the new owner and his pet happly. For more information, readers should visit my website at

1. As a rough guide, the minimum cage size should be: (approximate length of shama’s tails + 3”) x 2. So if the bird has 7” tails, the minimum cage size which is determined by the cage’s diameter should be 20”.

Cloth cover
2. Get a cloth cover for the cage. If the bird is wild and tries to poke its head out of the cage, almost completely cover the cage. The cover seems like a wall and will deter the bird from trying to escape through the bars. As the bird gets tamer, open the cover progressively. Even with tame birds, I cover half the cage so that the bird has a sense of security.

Cage location
3. If the bird is kept in the home, choose a cool corner of the room to hang the cage. It should neither be too bright nor too dark. The location should be airy without being draughty. The kitchen is the worst place to hang the cage because of changes in temperature.

4. Make sure the bird likes the place you choose. If it is constantly flying and moving all over the cage, it may be because it finds the location unsuitable. Try to find a better location.

5. Once the location has been chosen, do not change it without good reason. The shama is a territorial bird and needs to get used to the location that you have chosen for it.

Dry food
6. It is imperative that you initially feed the same dry food that the seller has been feeding but appreciate that it may not necessarily be the the best available food for the bird as sellers usually feed pellets for chickens or other low cost food.

7. In addition to the dry food, feed crickets, mealworms, grasshoppers, other insects and small fish to the bird in the morning or evening. The shama is insectivorous and must have some live food.

8. Check the droppings to make sure the bird is eating well. Ideally, the droppings should be a patch of white (urea) and a bit of black (waste matter). A large amount of waste matter suggests that the food is not suitable. I do not think pellets that are fed to chickens is suitable for shamas.

9. If the dry food is suitable, the bird will pick the bits and eat them. If the bird is swishing the food with its beak and scattering the contents on the cage floor, this is an indication that it is not eating much of the dry food. In such case, consider adding cut insects and/or changing the dry food.

10. If the dry food needs to be changed, the change must be gradual. Otherwise the bird will not recognize the new food as food and it will starve. Powder some of the new food and cut insects to be mixed with it. In this way the bird learns to eat the new food and its digestive system will get accustomed to it. Make sure the bird is eating well (by checking the droppings) before you stop providing cut insects.

11. The shama needs to bathe at least every other day and preferably daily. Provide a bath cage for this purpose. It may be bought from the bird-shop.

12. After bathing, hang the cage in a cool place outside so that the bird can dry. Do not place the cage in the sun. The shama is a bird of the forest and does not need much sunlight.

13. It is a good sign when the bird starts to bathe. It indicates that the bird is becoming more relaxed in its surroundings.

14. If the bird does not bathe in about 15 minutes, don’t spray it with water. Just put it back in its cage and within a few days it will want to bathe. Spraying may result in some of the water entering its lungs.

1 comment:

  1. Hi im black from gettin a baby shama soon.the shop is currently feeding chicken pellets and i learn that chicken pellets not good for shamas.which dry food is good to get from the shops and how do i change the food often i need to feed the bird with cricket,grasshoppers and often i need to give the vitamin B complex where can i get it.