Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Pied Bushchat

Recently, Jeffrey bought a Pied Bushchat. Jeff has often said that he would like to have 1 or 2 outstanding shamas in his home and also an Orange-headed Ground Thrush and a Pied Bushchat. Of course, this chap’s standards with regard to those songbirds that can fly (I make no comment about the other two-legged kind) is very high and for the past many months we have been looking at various Pied Bushchat’s to see if any met his standards. None did, until his recent purchase.

After getting his Bushchat, I would have expected him to happily and quietly enjoy it. Instead, he has been making even more noise over the phone and in person than his birds, constantly telling me what a desirable bird it is to have and, like Satan, encouraging me to indulge in my vices – in this case, that of getting another bird when I already have so many.

Yesterday, I gave in and got a Bushchat for myself. I suppose that as and when Jeff manages to find an Orange-headed Ground Thrush that meets his standards, he will try to again encourage me to indulge in another vice.

I have kept Bushchats before. They are much easier to keep than Shamas. They are insectivorous and their diet is the same as that of the Shama. When in good form, they will sing and display the whole day long. However, my primary interest is the white-rumped shama and like all the other species of songbirds that I have kept, I have eventually given the Bushchats away after keeping them for some time.

The Bushchat that I got yesterday is very tame. It will even sing when its cage is being handled. The appearance and song of the Bushchat is much like that of the Magpie-robbin and it is often referred to in Singapore as the small magpie.

I offered it a molted mealworm when at home yesterday but it did not take it from my hand. I guess it still needed to get used to its new surroundings. It had settled somewhat by this morning and readily took a mealworm from me.

As I usually do with new insectivorous birds in my home, I offered it live insects this morning and, in a separate cup, its usual dry food with some of my insectivorous dry food added. I have always found that new birds settle much more quickly and are less stressed when offered live food in their new home. Too often, owners immediately change the dry food of their newly acquired birds which then suffer from nutritional stress in addition to the stress of a new environment.

The best Bushchats will constantly flick their wings and tails as they move or fly about their cages. Each bird will have its own display pattern. They will also spread their wings and “stoop” much like an eagle over its prey when offered tidbits, such as molted mealworms.

I should mention that the Bushchats that we get in Singapore are usually from Indonesia or Vietnam. The Vietnamese birds are more difficult to come by and are considered to be much more desirable than those from Indonesia in terms of both display and song. Accordingly, the Vietnamese Bushchats command a substantially higher price than the Indonesian variety.

I googled for images of Pied Bushchats. There were many but all were of birds in sedentary poses – just standing or resting. I hope to take some photos, and perhaps a video or two, that could show how endearing these birds are as pets and post them on this blog.

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