Friday, March 11, 2011

Assessing Form

Last Sunday, I took Helmet to the Sunday shama gathering at Block 534, Ang Mo Kio, Singapore.  I wished to assess his performance in a “chai tio” or bird gathering.  He had placed 6th in the shama competition on 29th November, 2010 but I was not satisfied that he had sung and displayed at his best and I wanted to see if I could discover why.

He had been singing very well at home and seemed to be in good form.  He sang in the car on the way to AMK and this indicated that he was not stressed by the transportation. However, when his cage was hung amongst the other birds, he did not sing and display as well as he had done at home.  I was not sure why his form seemed to be less than it should be.  His wings were held tight to his body at the chai tio and this suggested that he was healthy and in good form so it was difficult to know what was wrong with him.

In the afternoon, a shama breeder friend kindly agreed that I could bring a shama when I visited him in his home to view his birds.  I brought Helmet along.  At his home, Helmet’s cage was placed on the floor and I surrounded it with my friend’s male shamas.  Helmet seemed at ease and in good form but I noted that he would only sing and display vigorously when a bird beside him did so.  Unless he was challenged, he did not respond.

What I saw satisfied me that his failure to respond to other birds was not because he lacked courage.  He needed the stimulus of a fierce bird to agitate him.  This poses a difficulty in competition since there is no assurance that the birds close to him will be performing.

I am not sure what (if anything), I can do at this time to make Helmet sing and display continuously at the chai tio.  I will give the matter some thought and see what I can come up with or my friends can suggest.


In contrast to Helmet is his brother, Piston, who is younger than him by one nest.  Piston is also Apache’s son.  He was bred by me and owned by Michael.

The first time that Michael brought him to a chai tio after his first molt, he had sung and displayed beyond expectations.  Michael had initially intended to offer him for sale but we decided to keep him after his unexpectedly strong showing.  There was a competition the following week at Block 159 AMK and Michael entered him.  He did not perform at his best and was placed 6th.  His lower form was no doubt due to him not having fully recovered from the exertions of the previous week.

After the competition I kept Piston as Michael was extensively renovating his new home.

Last Wednesday, my friend invited me to accompany him to the night chai tio at Bishan.  I accepted and brought Piston along.  This was the first time that he had ever been brought out at night and I was uncertain how he would perform.  I need not have been concerned.  He performed exceptionally well, opening his beak wide and to its full extent whilst he blasted his challenging songs.  A bird like Piston is a gem.  He is easy to care for and does not require any special preparation prior to him being taken to a shama gathering or competition.  Moreover, he does not need the surrounding birds to perform well before he performs.  I am confident he will do well in competitions.

Sky Hawk

I have had difficulty raising Sky Hawk to the form that I know he is capable of.  I think I have found out the reason why.  Last Sunday evening, I was looking at him in his indoor aviary while he was at the food cup.  I noticed that he was swishing the dry food with his bill.  When a bird does this, it is a sure sign that he does not find the food completely to his liking and he is not eating enough.  My dry food now consists of “Three Coins” and some “chwee mang” or dried water flies.  He was eating mostly the chwee mang. When a bird does not eat well, its form cannot improve.  Eventually, a stress molt will result.

To remedy the situation, I decided that the dry food should be powdered and mixed with cut insects to encourage him to eat.  We will see if this resolves the problem.

New Breeding Stock

At the shama breeder’s home last Sunday, one of his young male shamas attracted my interest.  It has good structure with soft curving tails of about 11¾”.  The tails are a little on the narrow side but I did not mind this as I know that they should broaden with age.

The structure of the bird matches what I am looking for.  It also has a strong character as witnessed by the fact that in 3 competitions it placed 6th, 5th and 4th.  It should be better after its molt. It is a first molt bird that is just showing signs of entering into its second molt.  I bought him for S$7,000.00.  I thought this was a reasonable price and did not ask for a discount.

I also have 2 other birds that can add new blood to my breeding program.  One is a second generation male that Michael bred.  Its grandfather was capable of winning the top prize in shama competitions.  The other is a wild-caught shama that I purchased.

I could go on breeding my stock of birds for several more years even without the addition of the above birds since the offspring of the birds from my captive bred stock do not as yet seem to suffer any ill effects from the line-breeding.  Nevertheless, it is good to acquire likely breeding stock at any time and I am happy that I have these new birds.

No comments:

Post a Comment