Monday, May 9, 2011

As a serious breeder of shamas, my aim is not to produce birds in quantity.  Neither am I able to do so as I have space constraints. Rather, through careful selection of breeding stock, I try to develop a small strain of shamas that is able to breed true to the type I have in mind.

The efforts that I have invested over  many, many years, have now resulted in a strain of birds that is readily recognizable as descended from the line of shamas that originated from Godfather - i.e. a strain characterized by males with generally long soft curved tails, good structure, song and a strong character.

Because my focus over the years has been on breeding and not competition, there was speculation by some hobbyists that captive bred shamas may not be able to compete in the arena on equal terms with wild-caughts.  If there was any such belief, it has been dispelled by the consistent successes of my birds in competitions since towards the end of last year.

Actually, even without the competition successes, a little common sense and research would have established that such claims cannot be true.  In fact, if a breeder knows what he is doing, over time, the successive generations of captive breds should develop to be far superior in the characteristics that are being sought than those in the wild. This is proving to be the case with shamas as my birds have improved over the years in the characteristics that I seek.

This year, I have so far had chicks from 4 males that I had not bred from previously.  They are Alpha, Skyhawk, Ozzie and Pretty Boy (my favourite shama).  Except for Alpha's chicks, the chicks from the others are presently much too young to make any serious assessment. Even with Alpha's chicks, any assessment at this time must be tentative as they are still immature and have much development ahead before they are fully developed taimongs.

For my strain of birds, I would regard a taimong with fully grown tails of 6" or more as having very long tails.  For instance, the longest tailed taimong I ever bred was Max and he had taimong tails of 6.4 inches.  After his first molt, the tails were about 12.4" and they are now about 16".

This does not mean that a chick with tails less than 6" will eventually have tails below 12".  From my experience and only with regard to the strain that I breed, even a chick with taimong tails of 4.75" (such as Super Model), can have tails exceeding 12" by the third molt.  Where the taimong tails are 6" to 6.4", I can almost predict that the tails after the first molt will be 11.75" to 12.4" with the eventual length after the 3rd or 4th molt to be from 13.5" to 16".

Over the past weekend, my friends and I have been pleasantly surprised by the way one of the chicks from Alpha's first clutch is developing.  Yesterday (Sunday), these chicks were only 41 days old and at this age, the average length of the primary tails of a chick with the potential for 6" taimong tails should be only around  3.25".  However, I measured the longest tailed chick from Alpha's first clutch at an unbelievable 4.25" or about 30% longer than the tails of the usual long-tailed chick of the same age. Moreover, the tips of its white tails are in line with the black tails.  This means that even the white tails are already substantially longer than those of the average wild-caught taimongs.  It also suggests that there is still a long way to go before the primary tails are fully grown.

How long the taimong tails of Alpha's above chick will eventually be is speculative at this time.  Generally, the taimongs grow their tails at the approximate same rate of 0.6" per week.  Those with short tails will stop growing sooner whilst the longer tails will continue to grow over a period of about 2 1/2 months or slightly more than 10 weeks.  On this basis, a long-tailed taimong will have tails of about 6".

 In the case of Alpha's above chick, the rate of growth has been about 0.7" a week.  This is phenomenal growth and if it continues, I may well have my first taimong with tails over 7".  Of course, tail length is not everything and the bird will also need to have the other characteristics that are sought but this chick does seem to have the other required characteristics.

The uncertainty of what will be produced from year to year makes breeding rewarding.  This year is proving to be especially exciting.


  1. Dear Uncle David,

    I wish to have some precious advise from you and will be My great pleasure if you give me responds, I have been waiting for the very long time to have My own Shama, but I don't know why My Shama (just caught from wild) didn't joy the food. Few Shamas died because of this, they are prefer to died rather than to joy the food. I think the food that I feed them is nothing wrong(based on information from the old post in M'sia bird forum). Again will be My great pleasure any feedback from you.

  2. Hi Ajib,

    The advice given by Dance4Rain in the forum is correct. If it does not work, I don't know what is wrong.