Thursday, May 6, 2010

Care during molt

Last Sunday, I had the privilege to have 3 guests at my place in the evening to see my shamas.  They were visiting for the first time.  At my request, Michael and Jeffrey came along.

We spent close to 2 hours chatting about shamas while the 5 birds in cages on the garden floor sang and displayed.  The aviary birds provided background accompaniment.  One of the guests later kindly remarked in his email that the experience had been eye-opening.

Among the topics we discussed was how to bring the shama into form and how to maintain the form thereafter.  The first thing to note is that a shama can only come into form if the hormone, testosterone, is present in its system.  Without this hormone, the bird will not even sing.  If the bird is well taken care of before and during the molt, it will continue to have some testosterone during the molt and it will sing and display to some extent throughout the molting process although it will be less active.  If the bird is fluffed or it is unresponsive when placed in the company of other male shamas during the molt, then something is wrong and you will need to review its care and maintenance.

As the shama approaches the end of its molt, the level of testosterone in its system should gradually increase.  In tandem with the rise in its testosterone, the bird’s form should also rise.  This rise in form together with good feathering provides confirmation that the bird’s nutrition and care during the molt are correct.

Let’s assume that all is well with the bird and it is starting to sing its primary song towards the end of its molt.  It may even do so quite vigorously.  Seeing what seems to be the bird’s good form, most of us become impatient to take the bird to a gathering.  This could be a mistake.  If the primary tails are still growing, its roots will be soft and could be damaged if the bird vigorously displays.  Also, as the bird is not yet in top form, placing it in a gathering of fierce shamas could cause it to be intimidated.  This could adversely affect its form after the molt.

The hobbyist should learn to exercise patience.  The male shama can be expected to come into top form about 1 ½ months after it completes the molt.  In the meantime, continue to have the cage in a quiet corner so that the bird is not disturbed by the songs of other shamas.  The cage should be fully covered with its cloth cover during the molt and until you are sure that the molt is completed. The cover can than be removed and you will be able to enjoy the bird and its songs as you hear its songs becoming louder and its display improves.

The bird should only be brought to bird gatherings after it has reached top form.  It should not be brought to gatherings too often such as once a week.  If you do so the bird will be stressed.  Its form will deteriorate and it may enter into a stress molt.


  1. When you say the molting process, you mean it is started when the feather stop falling to the longest tails stop growing right?
    And when you say the bird should be covered to the molt is completed means until the longest tails stop growing right?
    What's your recommendation to have a bird to a gathering, once in 2 weeks, 4 weeks, or even longer?

    Many thanks!


  2. Any sign of end of the molting process ~

  3. Can I let the bird bathe when it on molting process?