Friday, August 8, 2008

Factors Affecting Molt - Letter to Simon from Jeffrey Low

In the wild, a shama will be taking its cues from the climatic and
environmental changes to time its molt and this is usually the same time
each year. It can be from the temperature change, the rain, the air
pressure, the humidity around that tells the bird it is time to prepare for
breeding. Its hormonal level will start to drop. New feathers will start to
grow from inside the skin and this will push out the old worn out feathers
For the next couple of months, it will seek quiet and safe places to go through this very important yearly cycle. Upon completion, its testosterone level will rise and hence its aggression level as well. It will fight for a territory and be at its best
songs to warn off other male intruders and to attract a female. When it
starts a family, another hormonal change takes place that will drive its
instinct to care for the chicks.

In captivity, this natural instinct may be altered unknowingly or
intentionally. The length of day, the type of food, the confrontations with
other males in the chai arenas, etc - all these can be out of tune with the
natural timing as that of the wild where there is a time for each of these
to take place.This may sometimes affect the timing of the molt or cause other
unnatural responses from the bird. An experienced shama keeper will know how
to manipulate all these very well without causing much harm and getting the
best out of the bird. A novice may sometimes wonder why a shama molts
earlier or later, why his bird starts to pull out feathers or has no form,
etc etc.

Simon, the best part of the hobby is learning and understanding 'the way of
the shama' as you progress through the years ahead. We all started with
being attracted by the song and the beauty of the bird but for those that
are stuck with only this appreciation, the hobby will not last very long and
they will give it up once they are tired of it. For some others, it is a
life long experience to travel this never ending journey of learning and
understanding these wonderful creatures of nature.]


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