Friday, December 26, 2008

Malaysian Laws on Birds

Was in a bird shop today buying some extra plastic cups for the birds. Normal chit chatting about the birds, economy and goverment ensues. These are difficult times and the topic of economic downturn is on everyones lips. Then came a topic that catches my attention. The owner told me that a customer complained to him that there is somebody in a certain place keeping lots of birds blatantly.
Oh my God, that can only be me :( as the place mentioned clicked hahahaha!

Now, as brief summary of Malaysian law on wildlife is strict to say the least. There are many common birds that are totally protected, some are not mentioned and a small handful that are allowed required a license to keep. The issuance of new licenses have been suspended for some time already. And the only way we can obtain one is to get a previous owner to transfer it to us albeit for a small payment.

Back to the story - the shop owner told him off and ask him to complain to the wildlife department if he is not happy. Now, I am not worried of him complaining as I have ample amount of licenses, maybe a few pieces extra (which presents another problem) but the sad thing to note is why are some people just so nosy. Its not as if I am torturing the birds under my care or something. In fact they are better off than being in some of their previous places (not all, but a majority). A case of sour grape? I can only guess. Which is why now my new ground rules is to avoid bringing people over to my house (hobbyists that is).

Lets consider wildlife conservation, bio-diversity and all that craps. Shouldn't it all start with nurturing a culture that promotes understanding of animals? What better way to understand animals than to keep them happy and healthy in a captive environment and learn how to breed them. I have actually grown to appreciate the many restrictions in Malaysia, in a way it is really keeping in check excesses by hobbyists. However, I would think the wildlife smugglers and exporters are more of a threat to the wildlife than the hobbyists like myself.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Shama Tai Mong

Tai Mong refers to juvenile birds. Could be Shamas, Magies or even bulbuls. There has been many opinions given as to which stage of Shamas (age) makes a better songbird. Wild adults are said to posess their wild naturally learned repertoire of songs whereas baby birds would lack the capacity to do so as they have been removed from their wild environment. To compensate them from such disadvantage, often, a tutor bird is highly recommended.

For me, my preference often are skewed towards young juveniles for the mere fact that they tame down much easier than the adult birds. And often start singing after their first molt to adult plumage. Young juveniles, or often I prefer to call them the "flying babies" (vs those that still require hand feeding), have acquired their own style of songs.

This year, I kept two of such babies - one from Rompin which I kept for a friend and another from Grik which a friend decided to give up on. Both have developed nicely enough and started singing well before the adult plumage has fully grown. However I should be keeping them away from stressful competitive environment until after their second molt for best effect.

Rompin Tai Mong:

Grik Tai Mong:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Want not waste not

Bought 3 packets of insect food that doesn't look too fresh. Still usable but seems to deteriorate quite fast. Left a balance of 2 packets which I was thinking of feeding to the chicken. Then I thought why not start making bird food again. Since I am applying a theory of not letting the birds' system get too used to a single type of dry food, cooking my own food should accord this flexibility for me.

Didn't want to try something too complex, so a basic chicken feed base should suffice and it will sort of give a holiday from all those peanut feeds I have been relying on.

500g of chicken feed (Cargill Brand)
100g of dried insects
3 eggs

Sieved the chicken feed of the powdery feed to get a consistent larger pellets. Weigh the feed to get an exact 500g. Add 3 eggs and stir evenly. Then left to dry in oven at approximately 110 Celsius for 30 minutes. Fry in low fire in wok and work at getting the lumps to break down. Add 100g of dried insects (the not so fresh insect food), stir evenly and further roast at 125 Celsius in the oven for 15 minutes. The end result appears dried and palatable enough.

Not trusting my own food processing skills, I kept it in a fridge for storage until feeding time. So far so good......

Next batch, I may consider adding beef and probably egg shells.

Ready for the oven (minus the insects):

The dried insects:

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Training a White-rumped Shama

Consider this - in the East Coast of Malaysia, the Red-whiskered Bulbul (Merbah Jambul) is competed at around eye level. Elsewhere, they are competed above head level, same as with the White-rumped Shama (Murai Batu) and Oriental White-eye (Mata Puteh). The Zebra Doves (Merbok) and Spotted Doves (Tekukur) are universally competed on top of poles 18 to 20 feet high. Hmmm...... how does all this come about? Maybe this all has to do with a bird's natural behaviour.

But hold on - in nature, the Red-whiskered Bulbul plays atop trees, so shouldn't they be hoisted up as well? Maybe it has more to do with commonly accepted avian culture (in Asia particularly) rather than anything. I do not know.

Well, since I have a pole for Zebra Doves, there is no harm in knowing how a caged Shama responds to higher altitude. I have tried it for a few days now on Apollo 6 and what I can say is that on the first day itself it took less than 5 seconds for him to start singing (which is more than I can say for my Zebra Doves). However, it should be noted that unlike Zebra Doves, Shamas do not tolerate heat too well, so I only start doing it about 6.30 to 7.00pm when there is no longer direct sunlight and leave him until dark about 8.00 to 9.00pm.

Below is Apollo 6 on day one at the pole.

Apollo 9 (White-rumped Shama)

This is a strange bird. Have been very patient with him. Molted once in a friend's home and molted again 2 months later in my home. Hmmmm....... he better keep his feathers longer this time round. Anyway, his form is rising up nicely now, a fella to watch out for. So far "chai" him at home only - will consider bringing him out soon or just let a friend keep him.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Apollo 8 (White-rumped Shama)

Apollo 8 was obtained on 17th Dec 2008. Came with tail feathers of roughly 8". However he has the undesirable feature of having one longer and one shorter primary tail feather. During the previous molt, the tail feather is also uneven, hoping things may change in the subsequent molt, which may be some time yet as he has just finished his molt. He has quite a nice slim body and good song.

Decided on the name Apollo 8 due to being lazy to think up a name hahaha!
I had another Shama by the name of Apollo 8 which escaped last year. He could still be around, hopefully ;)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Apollo 6 (White-rumped Shama)

This is Apollo 6, last year's Tai Mong (juvenile). Still waiting for him to molt and change his second set of adult plumage. A few pin head feathers has appeared on his face, indicating that it should be very soon. I should be feeding him with lots of live food at the moment to facilitate his molt - hopefully I will come down to it soon hehehe! just me the procrastinator.

Originated from Endau, Johor, Apollo 6 is not a favoured Shama according to current trends due to his short and stiff tail. However, what he lacks in looks, he makes up with his willingness to sing anywhere, anytime. Therefore making a very reliable tutor bird for the other young ones. Him, being also considered a young Shama should be even better after his second molt.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Blue-crowned Hanging Parrot (Serindit)

A fried was telling me that some Serindits have very good song, many "chap chee" or variety of tones. There is only one way to find out. Then a few days later he hand delivered to me a specimen for me to keep ;)
So far not too bad, but still waiting for him to show his full potential. Or is it bird specific? meaning some just don't cut it and only a few talented ones that makes the grade. Anyway, hoping that I got one of the "few".

Local Merbok

The price of a bird is determined by a few factors, a rare species very often fetches a higher price than a common bird. However it is not always the case. A curious species to look at is the Merbok or Zebra Dove (a.k.a. Peaceful Dove), they are every where in South East Asia, a common bird found in the city, rural areas and even jungles.

These birds especially those that have been captive bred for their voice could fetch many thousands of Ringgit if certain criteria are met. The reasons must lie in the competitive nature of humans. And since everybody likes to win, the chase for a top competition bird naturally hikes up the price.

Often, the Merbok's wild cousin are overlooked just because their voice do not meet competition criteria (which is set by man anyway). After living with a wild local Merbok for a few months, I have grown fond of its voice. The natural wild call of the Doves - and it does varies from bird to bird but always distinctively "wild" song. The below can be considered a 2 step, with "angkatan" but no "kong" if I were to adopt competitive standards on him ;)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Asian Pied Starling

Took in a new bird on Monday. The Asian Pied Starling (Gracupica contra). A young bird just changing to adult plumage.
Kept mainly for the following purposes:

1) Good home guard as they will make noise upon seeing people approaching
2) Encourages other birds to sing (suppose to be quite hardworking)
3) Great to teach Hwa Mei to sing
4) Fun factor
5) They are songbirds of their own rights

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Serindit - Blue-crowned hanging parrot

Was given this Serindit on Sunday night (30th Nov). A beautiful male bird. Looks very much like a doll sometimes ;)
I was told some specimens have very nice melodic whistling capabilities.

It is the first Serindit I ever kept. Hope everything goes well....