Monday, March 2, 2015

Weekend update

Drumbeat in competition

Falcon's 8 months' old son, Drumbeat, was champion at yesterday's Kebun Baru Bird Club shama competition at AMK159, Singapore. Almost 90 shamas competed.  This is about the maximum number of entries for a shama competition in Singapore.

Male shamas come into their prime at about 4 years of age.  This is when they are fully mature and physically and sexually at their peak and able to conquer and defend territory. As a rule therefore, I do not like to compete first molt shamas that are only a few months old, such as Drumbeat. It's like putting a teenager in the boxing ring with a professional adult.

There was a good reason for breaking this rule in Drumbeat's case. I had bred his father, Falcon, for the first time last year when he had produced 6 males.  They all had the structure that I have come to expect from my line of birds.  While there was varying tail length on completion of their first molt, the variance was from 10 3/4" to 13" which is normal. The offspring with the longest first molt tails was Nighthawk.

Being satisfied with Falcon's ability to produce offspring of desirable structure, tail length, soft feathering, display and song, it only remained to assess and confirm the extent of the courage and endurance of his offspring from last year. By assessing his progeny, I would be able to confirm that Falcon is capable of producing offspring of the type produced by Apache, Skyhawk, Pretty Boy and my other shamas, i.e with strong character and display, that can perform exceptionally well in any gathering of shamas. The best way to ascertain this, was to test the courage and endurance of one of Falcon's sons in a competition.  I chose Drumbeat as he had completed his molt and was in form. I already knew that he had courage from his performances in small groups of shamas, such as at Michael's home, but the competition would fully test and confirm the extent of his courage and endurance in a large gathering of shamas.

Drumbeat has a characteristic that is not often found in shamas and which is something that I desire to breed true in my line of birds. Most shamas (naturally) tend to be stressed by unusual new experiences and need time to adjust before they can perform. For example, they tend not to sing and display well the first few times they are transported in a vehicle.

With Drumbeat, though, he seemed to enjoy his outings from a very young age.  On his very first transportation in a car, he was quiet and relaxed during the trip and able to perform immediately at the end of the journey. He reminded me of shamas with super strong characters such as Apache's sons, Cochise, Piston and Funkie, and some other shamas I have known.

Drumbeat's ability to remain unstressed stood him in good stead in the competition yesterday.  I arrived late, just as instructions were being issued for the cage covers to be removed for the start of the competitiion. Consequently, his cage cover had to be removed before he could be given time to recover from the journey. This was undesirable especially as it was Drumbeat's very first competition.  Actually, before this, he had not even been brought to a shama gathering (chai tio) and his training outside the home had comprised mainly of getting him used to people and testing him in small groups of 2 to 4 shamas. There was no need to be concerned. Drumbeat performed immediately the cage cover was removed.

Yesterday's competition was organised in the same manner as most competitions in Singapore nowadays.  There were 3 preliminary rounds of half an hour each and a final round of another 1/2 hour.  Between the preliminary rounds and the final round there was a wait of about 1/2 hour whilst the points were tallied to obtain the average marks of the 3 judges (who had assessed 30 birds each in rotation) in the preliminary rounds.  The top 30 shamas (out of 90) are chosen for the final round which is scored by 2 judges who assess 15 birds each in rotation and the marks are then added and averaged.

Very young shamas, even those with strong character, seldom do well in a competition where there is a final round as they tend to lack the endurance of shamas in their prime.  I was therefore pleased at Drumbeat's performance over the 4 rounds.  He confirmed my faith in him and in Falcon as a producer of outstanding shamas. To maximise the offspring from Falcon, I will be breeding him "polygamously". I hope to write on this topic at some future date.


Sting is completing his 3rd molt and I transferred him from aviary to cage yesterday.  He has had a very good molt and is already coming into form as can be seen from the video below.

I have not decided if I will breed or compete him this year.

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