Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hwamei Pt.1

I have never kept Hwamei before. It was not commonly available when I started to pick up on this hobby. So, couldn't resist getting one when it became available. Was told by a friend (now considered my Hwamei sifu) that it could be a very challenging bird to keep. Challenging not in the sense of difficulty of care or hardiness. Challenging because, I virtually got no proper view of the bird for months to facilitate the process of taming and acclimatising the birds. Most of the time, the cage is covered. So, this is not going to be too much fun.

Even the bathing cage is kept covered to prevent the bird from being frightened and hurting itself.

Two subspecies are known:
Leucodioptron canorum canorum - South-eastern & central China
Leucodioptron canorum owstoni - Hainan Island
Those found in Taiwan (Leucodioptron taewanum) has been considered a separate species.

It has been interesting reading about them. But information in English on the upkeep and maintenance of the Hwamei is scarce.

Here is mine, in a quiet corner singing away on the 2nd day he arrived.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Puteh - an Experiment in Relocation Pt.3/3

I shall make this the last part of Puteh relocation series. Then will consider trapping the bird to see whether it is the same one visiting or there are others out there......
So far, I have not seen more than 1 flying about. Hmmm.... interesting if this is the only one staying behind. Why?? would be a good question to ask ;)

Here it is visiting the bathing cage. It actually went in to investigate the tray of water:

In my next life, I want to be a Jambul, it seems to say :D

Had an interesting day "chai" both my Magpies today (Black Magpie & local Magpie) in a friend's house. The Black Magpie was full of "fire" even though he appears to be a bit sedentary at home. The local Magpie still has a long way to go. What was interesting is seeing a good specimen of an Oriental Magpie Robin which belongs to a friend. Must video this fella one day, just to confirm that he is able to maintain such open wing and tail posture or its just one of those once off thing ;)

Friday, December 25, 2009

Choosing a Mata Puteh

About a week or so ago, a couple of friends decided to "chai" Mata Puteh in an orchard. Very nice setting, much privacy and natural surrounding.

Testing of a pikat Merbok:

Breeding Jambuls Pt.4

Gave up breeding Jambuls yesterday. Firstly, the nest was placed too high for me to see the inside. Even with a 5 steps ladder, I couldn't peek into the nest to determine whether there are chicks or eggs. Bad design, bad layout ......sigh!

Then came the task of taking the birds out. The female got no problem hopping out from the aviary to an open Shama cage placed outside the door. The male is a little tricky. I tried luring him out with food (mealworms), another male and the female. He just refused to come out and preferred to perch high and sing his heart out. As a last resort, I went inside the aviary and caught him with a net.

Then, surprise, surprise! there are 2 eggs in the nest when I took it down.

I have read about candling and all that, but when comes to practical, I can't tell whether its fertile or not. Anyway, I decided to lower down the nest so that the small tree will actually block it from view, but when I peek from higher up, i could see the inside. Now, the challenge is whether the pair would mind after the nest has been shifted and they have been harassed (taken out of the aviary) ;)

......glad to report that on Christmas Day today, the female Jambul is spotted using the nest and continued incubating the eggs. Since I do not know when the eggs were laid, I would take yesterday as day 1 and start counting to determine whether the eggs are fertile or not. That is me, the amateur weekend breeder hehehe!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Puteh - an Experiment in Relocation Pt.2/3

It has been more than a week, and at least one of the released Mata Puteh is still loitering around. This time, when I returned from a 5 days holiday, I spotted it in a Jambul cage (this Jambul belongs to a teacher in Endau). Luckily the Jambul did not harass the Puteh. Hmmmm.... time to re-think a multi species cage ;)

Anyway, the Puteh couldn't find his way out and was fluttering around in a panic state when I handled the cage. I transfer it to a bathing cage and released it again, but not before the Puteh managed to injure his head banging around :(

He must have made his way in through the gap marked with red arrow:

Couldn't make time to collect my newly acquired Hwa Mei from K.L. This fella, I was told is quite good. Would make for some lively topic to write about. Since this would be the first time I will be keeping one......

...... heard that its a bit challenging, especially the part about keeping it covered for months hahaha!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Was in Hatyai recently with family. Haven't been there before...... must say that its a paradise for Jambul keepers. Everywhere now and then as I travel, I would see the the unique square cages outside of shops, houses and even factories. Thus in my opinion, it could be the favourite national past of the epople of Hatyai. Not much time to do any bird related shopping, just managed to grab some cage cloth from a shop a short walk away from my hotel......

Language is a problem though. The shop owner, a lady does not understand "cloth", "kain" (Malay), "pu" (Mandarin), "por" (Hokkien) so I end up tugging at my shirt and pointing to the cage to get the message across ;)

A short walk from my hotel is a money changer where I got my currency exchanged. Outside his shop is a Barau (Straw-headed Bulbul) and inside on top of a cabinet was another bulbul which I did not get a good look at. But it sounds like the Stripe-throated Bulbul. Wow! hope to be back again in April next year ;)

Puteh - an Experiment in Relocation Pt.1/3

I have noticed wild population of Zosterops in my garden from time to time. Not a huge flock but the occassional 1 or 2 birds. The largest flock that ever visited was also about 9, although it could have been larger as it is quite difficult to count free flying birds. Anyway, it has been some time since I have a visit from them. They could have moved away or been trapped.

So, I have decided to try a little experiment and see whether it is possible to repopulate Zosterops in my area. Especially when its only RM5 per bird hehehe! I realise that they fly far and wide for food, so unlike territorial birds like Magpies or Shamas. Anyway, I think food is abundant. Just hope that they stick around......

3 days later, one is still seen loitering around. Very tame fella. Here it is going into my Barau cage to have a bite on a piece of apple while the Barau is bathing. It did the same when I bath my Jambul.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Kekek - my Jambul Pt.2/2

I wonder whether he will be ready for a competition on 6th Dec.
I wonder whether he is in good form yet....
I think I will stick to the tall cage despite its handicap (another way of saying, I am too lazy to transfer him back to a square cage hahaha!)

Well, there is always another 2 more candidate at home if this fella doesn't cut the mark :D

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Kekek - my Jambul Pt.1/2

This Jambul is named Kekek, so named because he is always referred to as the "kekek bird" whenever my friend and I are discussing about him. He has a long "kekek" sound when in form. Just about completed his molt when I brought him to Cheras and tried him out in a tall cage which is popular in Singapore but seldom used nowadays in Malaysia.

Will be looking for a square type cage to try out (the one with tree like branches much favoured nowadays). My motto in life - never try never know :D

Why are most good Shamas short tailed?

This is a general perception and observation - that most good Shamas are "short-tailed". Why is it so? Perhaps I could shed some light with a little statistics.

It is estimated that 1,000 Shamas are caught weekly throughout Peninsula Malaysia. Out of this, probably only 10 are of 8+". In a year only about 10 specimens that are truly 9+" are found (most 9" birds in the market are actually 8+"). And this happens for 7 months in a year.

Is this sustainable? It probably is, if we don't lose more forest.

Now, the sheer number of short tailed birds would tremendously increase the chances of finding good specimens. And as we move up to the longer tailed specimens, please note that statistical probability of finding good birds among the longer tailed birds is reduced. There! that is the reason why most good birds in competitions are of those shorter tailed types.

And I haven't even begin to touch on captive bred birds ;)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Apollo X, the White-rumped Shama

Introducing Apollo X in Cheras bird competition:

hmmm.... looks good in my humble opinion. Will write more about him in the future. Unless, I choose to retire him to breeding or sell him off hehehe! then upgrade to Apollo XI?? hahaha! good to dream eh? definitely will be a good dream ;)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Trapping Tools

Since I am at it (blogging), I might as well add a report on another necessary tool for the occasional "bird trapper" - the "parang" or a local designed machete. Bought one yesterday - small basic design. Just like it because its handle and sheath is made of buffalo horn.

Well, I heard that if you are superstitious, better don't get an old parang. Some even say that the buffalo horn attracts "something" from the jungle. Looks like I am going to find out soon if such things are true hehehe!

Dead Birds??

Some time this year, there was a strange occurrence that I have nearly forgotten until a repeat today. See, I found a dead Peaceful Dove in my garden. On my porch to be exact. I have heard of cats that brings prey they have caught back to their owners. But I do not own cats....
The dead bird appears uninjured. So, I was wondering why it choose to die in my home. One probable reason could be because there are many birds in my home and it sound as close to bird paradise as it could possibly get within miles hahaha!

Today, a visiting friend pointed to me a dead Peaceful Dove lying on my brick wall. The bird appears too to be uninjured and full feathered. The eyes were a little sunken, indicating that it could have been dead there for many hours already. I unceremoniously wrap it up in a newspaper, to be disposed off later. But after considering the repeat of this weird incidence, I decided to give it a proper burial.

The dead Peaceful Dove:

After picking a nice spot, I assembled the necessary tools. Luckily, I managed to find a crow bar to loosen the ground because it is quite hard. And a mini "cangkul" came in handy to perfect the work.

The tools:

This is the nice spot where the dove is buried, underneath a palm tree:

Well, as long as they are not my own captive birds dying, I do not mind performing for them the last rituals ;)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

San Ma - the little skylark

Got reacquainted with one of these delightful and unassuming bird. This little fella just about eats anything - from grains, seeds, chicken feed to insects and worms.
The weather is most unpredictable. It could be scorching hot one part of the day followed by thunderstorm with heavy rain next. Anyway, when it rains, especially in the afternoon or early evening, it seems to be encouraging most songbirds to sing their mid-tones.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hooded Pitta

Ah! I didn't want to blog about this specie just because it is totally protected under the law. But then in a situation where I have to choose between helping to care for such a specie and risking being caught breaking the law, I chose the former. But then I make sure I document its progress and its final reintroduction into the wild.

Seriously though, I have never seen a Hooded Pitta before and so does some active birders I know. It is classified under "uncommon" in a book I own. Luckily, information from the internet came to the rescue. I have no idea what it eats until I Google it up. Appears to thrive on earthworms, snails and insects.

So, crickets and mealworms it shall be. And as in all Malaysian birds, chicken feed also came to the rescue ;). Quite tame fella actually and quickly learns to eat chicken feed. Loud call, which unfortunately I did not manage to record.

Released the Pitta to the Melaka Botanical Park this morning on the way to work since it is strong and healthy.

Here he is looking a bit scared being release in a botanical garden (one of the few safe places left). Probably scared of the new place and the video camera ;)

Entrance to the Malacca Botanical Garden (formerly known as the "Hutan Rekreasi" - recreational forest)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Yellow-vented Bulbul

I released a Yellow-vented Bulbul yesterday morning. Fed him with a slice of apple and left his cage open. He didn't go far and was seen loitering around the garden till late evening.
Below is the fella visiting my Jambuls in the aviary

Left out some mealworms on the fence for him to eat while he acclimatise himself to the wild yonders. I think this young fella would adapt well over time.

Henny Mutation Jungle Fowl - an update, a miracle

Well, before I start, let me update a little on the weather these past few weeks. Most times it is terribly hot followed by downpours. And my RJF hen couldn't pick a worst spot to lay her eggs. Its just beside my garden wall.
Whenever it rains heavily, the water will rise and then quickly subside after the downpour. The spot where she lays her eggs is prone to be water logged. At one time in the darkness of night, I actually went out with an umbrella during a downpour to check on her. The water is 1 inch high but she still faithfully sits on her eggs.

A few days ago, she abandoned her eggs because the water rose too high for her. All her eggs were submerged in water. The quickest time taken for the water to subside would at least be half an hour after the rain. I thought the eggs were goners.

Surprisingly, on the morning of 16th November, 2 chicks were seen peeking out from under the hen. By evening, it appears that only the 2 chicks survived the ordeal (out of 5 eggs). Another 2 eggs had well formed dead chicks in them and 1 egg was not fertile.

These are the 2 miracle chicks that made it:

I will stop breeding the pair of RJF and put them up for adoption. My intention were to try breeding the henny mutation cock to an original RJF hen. It has been done, and a total 6 chicks (including the above) were born out of the pairing. All chicks were raised indoor to improve their chances of survival.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Breeding Jambuls Pt3

Last Tuesday, one of my Jambul escaped and it took me about an hour to get him back. It would have made some nice videos, but I was rushing to go out and wasn't in the mood to get the film rolling for his sake ;)

Quite challenging to trap him back. Tried putting out his cage with fruits and crickets in it to attract him. Also placed a "jebak" out with a slice of papaya in it. He seems attracted to the "jebak" initially and managed to land at its edge and eat the papaya. He refused to jump into the perch in the "jebak" that will trigger the trap door to be released.

After which he was preoccupied flying all over the aviary housing a pair of breeding Jambuls. Kekek and opening wing in display. Sigh!.... I think the pair will probably abandon their nest with all these activities. It would all have been fun like the time Chiku escaped if I wasn't rushing for time. Finally caught him with some latex glue, locally known as "terap". This "terap" has a nice texture and is sticky enough to hold the Jambul but not too sticky that the feathers are stuck to it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Breeding Jambuls Pt2

A nest was made probably 2 weeks ago. Never seen the nest being used until today. Noticed the female is sitting in the nest which is made inside a coconut husk. Very positive development. Time to be more vigilant in providing supply of live food ;)

Red-whiskered Bulbuls - different judging criteria

There are no birds that are judged with as varied a criteria as the Red-whiskered Bulbuls (a..a. Merbah Jambul, Candek) that I know of. In fact there are 3 distinct cage designs that are commonly used and its popularity depends much on its locality.

First there is the Thai cage or I usually call them the "A" framed cage. It is a square cage broader at the base than the top.
Note:(Correction 11th Nov): I was told it originates from S'pore - this "A" cage)
Then there is the tall cage which is popular in Singapore and was popular in Malaysia not too long ago.
Thirdly there is the "Penang" type cage which is square in design with the top and bottom of roughly the same size, usually slightly bulging in the middle.

The perches placed on these different types of cages are also different in layout. It would have an impact on the behaviour of the birds and therefore, different criteria are used in judging a bird in competition.

I compete my Jambuls in an arena where the favoured type of cages used are the "Penang" design. However my prefered type of cages are the Thai cages. Now, how that would impact on the performance of my birds? I would think they would be at a disadvatage since "perch play" would also score some points. However, winning trophies is not important to me, more importantly the reason that I compete my birds is to benchmark against others and see how I fare against other good specimens base on my own criteria.

The best arena to be critically judged, in my opinion is the normal "chai" place, where most hobbyists gather to train their birds. Here, fellow freinds and strangers would sometimes share comments on birds. It is for the owner to filter from the genuine feedback to dishonest sarcarsm ;)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Shedding some light on physical appearance of a Palpebrosa

I am no expert on bird identification. The below photos wasn't commented by me, but some pointers I received from a fellow hobbyist. There was this guy who says that he supplies the "true" Oriental White Eye. So, how to know the difference?
Some say by the voice. But identification of birds through voice is a very specialised skill. I, for one would be quite blur on this, so I would leave it to the experts to thrash it out. But for those who may take an interest on physical difference of sub-species of the Zosterops......

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Oriental Magpie Robin Pt.2

Singing non-stop from day one, this appears to be a hard working singer......

His constant singing prompted the Black Bellied Magpie to sing along as well ;)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Oriental Magpie Robin Pt.1

Saw an Oriental magpie Robin in a shop couple of days ago, all battered up and tail feathers broken. He was still quite steady, singing away, swaying his body and fanning what is left of his tail :D

Out of impulse, took him home together with cage. He sang his territorial song almost immediately upon reaching home. He is a bird that has lost one fight too many I suppose and dump at the local bird shop to be sold off as a songster. Hmmm.... he has a habit of doing a somersault from the cage floor. Quite entertaining ;)

But a little bit too noisy, probably will keep him until he molt back to his handsome self before finding a new owner for him.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pied Bushchat

Lost track of how long I have been keeping a couple of these Bushchats. Finally one has decided to start singing. He appears to be not in very good form, all fluffy and lethargic. Hope he improves soon. The background song is a recording of a singing Oriental Magpie Robin.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Breeding the Java Sparrow

I am getting lazy, so I will paste something I wrote in the Malaysia Bird Forum (its a reply to a member's request for help in setting up an aviary as his school science project):

OK, I have thought about this project over and I present my thoughts and invite debates

Now, from the management of aviaries point of view. It would be difficult to manage a multi species aviary especially in a school compound.
You must think of the non-working weekends - who is in charge? of cleaning, feeding etc.
Think of the long school holidays - who is in charge?
It is not a short term project. Long term management and upkeep have to be considered lest it becomes another "big idea" that becomes neglected over time.
Keep in mind that the birds are living things and can't be put on hold even though the human carers have more important things to do.

My suggestion. Keep things simple. Have a single specie aviary. It would make the upkeep simple such as food and nesting requirements. So, even the gardener can be taught quite simply how to maintain the aviary. Another problem solved would be inter species compatibility. Some species are quite aggressive and could present a problem for other more docile species.

So, what do I suggest you keep? It has to be non TP (totally protected), no license requirement (cost and frozen licenses comes to mind), preferably local breed (you are teaching local kids here, so might as well teach them the love for their own Country's fauna) and hopefully there is a higher purpose to all of this.

What specie eh?

Let me suggest the Jelatek or Java Sparrow. They were common wild birds back in the old days. Stories of "pikat Jelatek" , catching Jelatek etc etc abounds if you speak to some old timers. First they are hardy birds, live well in a communal and breeds readily in an aviary. Not to mention that they are actually attractive birds and one of those local species that does not require a license to keep. As the population in the aviary grows, consider tagging and releasing the birds to hopefully establish a thriving wild population (this is the higher purpose that I spoke about). For "ego" purposes maybe can tag as SKDB (Sekolah Kebangsaan Dean Barau hahahaha!). Then your school can be proud of something, the kids learn something, the Country benefits somehow and DeanBarau has less work to do

Wa! I am spending too much time in the Forum. Must get back to my TV. How guys? feedback! feedback!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Retro Movies - Lucky

A tribute to my first ever Mata Puteh that I kept. Finding old footages to share ;)

Seems like a long time ago. This is one maintenance free fella. Out in the morning and back in the evening, always with his cage door open so that he knows where to get his food. I gave him away to a friend who practice the same schedule as well.
One day, his new owner forgot to put out his cage for him to return to and he was never seen again :(

That is the peril of keeping birds in such a way. Its a dangerous world out there.... and so, we suspect that Lucky fell prey to some predators.

note: I have accidently uploaded the same video twice & do not know how to remove it.... sigh!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bathing Birds

Bath time has always been a favourite thing to do for most of the birds (there are actually exceptions). It is also a time consuming activity especially so if you keep an unsane number of birds. Just sharing how I manage.

For Oriental White Eyes (Mata Puteh), the occasional luxury I can accord them is a hanging bath cage in a sunny area where I know the shadow will cover it within 20 minutes. In this bath cage, I provide food and a big cup of water (to bath). A tray would be out of the question as it would be too heavy when filled with water. It has the purpose of providing extra space, activities, sunning and "bath all you like" for the enjoyment of the birds.

Then there are the Red-whiskered Bulbuls (Merbah Jambul) which is more straight forward. A round aluminium container filled with water is placed inside their cage for them to bath as and when they want.

The White-rumped Shamas that tends to get their tail damaged in a bathing cage, the set up would be like below. Cage and bath cage is aligned so that the bird is free to bath and get back to its cage to shake and preen itself.
This is not without risk especially where there are energetic pets running around or the inquisitive children at home ;)

Territorial birds like the Shamas can turn a mundane bathing event to a "mini singing contest". Its a joy or nuisance depending on how much time one has. If all the time in the world, then its a fun thing to observe. If rushing to fetch the kids or something, not many birds will get their bath :(

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Zosterops Palpebrosa Pt.3

This is Thor, personally I think quite potential to be developed into a good bird if no bad habits set in.

He came to me uninvited, meaning I wasn't actually looking to increase my stock of Puteh. But after hearing stories about him, I was tempted. See, among hundreds of Putehs that passed by this trader's hand, 2 caught his attention and he dumped them with another 8 Putehs that he thinks got potential into a "ladung" (big cage, usually 4 feet by 2 feet). 1 broke its leg and left 1 which he thought he better let me keep.
Well, only time will tell whether this trader knows his stuff or maybe whether I know my stuff

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Captive Bred vs Wild Caught

Now, this is an old topic that was hotly debated many times before. My thoughts are that it is an unfair comparison especially when proponents of wild caught Shamas points out to the many good wild stocks that is in the competition arena. I have kept many wild caught Shamas and I can say that not all of them are equal. As is always the way life is - its never fair ;) Some are just more gifted than others just like us humans.

The reasons why there are a lot of good wild Shamas around are just a game of probability. See, most Shamas kept in this region are caught from the wild and for every good Shama found in the arena, many more has been rejects. Serious breeders of the Shama can be counted. There are not many of them around. What the proponent of wild caught Shamas need to do is point to a lesser captive bred specimen and loudly proclaims that "I told you so", "cannot play one". He fails to realise that captive bred birds are not yet well represented. Given time and as the numbers of captive bred Shamas become available, I am more than certain excellent specimens will emerge on the competition scene.

After decades of harvesting good birds from the wild, could it be possible that the gene pool of excellent Shamas from the wild has been depleted? Many old timers who has been around long enough to see birds of yesteryears and what is available now would testify to that. It seems that it is becoming more and more difficult to find Shamas that are truly excellent.

I believe Shama connoiseurs has no choice but depend on captive breeding to maintain the quality of birds. Breeding from fine specimens and selecting traits that are desirable appears to be the best way forward.

Of course not all will agree with me. But that is the beauty of us humans. We can agree to disagree and only time will tell. :)

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Member in the Family

Long tailed Shamas are quite hard to find. Harder still are long tailed Shamas that are good structurally and most importantly, to me is one with a good "heart". One that is brave and not easily spooked. This is so that on a rough and tumble cross country journey to compete in faraway towns, they will still arrive in top form ;)

I am lucky to come into possession of a good specimen of the long tailed Shama. Its considered a gift from a good friend who is a connoiseur of the White-rumped Shamas as I only paid a fraction of its worth. Currently just completed his molt and hopefully will rise in form in the coming one or two months time (keeping my fingers crossed that it won't happen the other way round ;) - drop on form.... yikes!)

A few molted mealworms smeared with a liquid vitamin for breakfast:

He went for it with great enthusiasm:

Because I was rushing out to work in the morning, I only manage to capture a few shots using my mobile phone. So, quality is a bit grainy. Will get down to more serious video shooting when he really gets settled down.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Breeding the Henny Mutation Gallus gallus

Henny mutation in Red Jungle Fowl (RJF) is not uncommon. It is characterised by female coloured feathering in the male. What is uncommon is probably breeding the original (untainted) henny feathered RJF.

This is a good specimen of a very original looking female RJF (so I have been told). Notice the orderly fan like tail feathers and almost non-existent comb on the head:

She came from a brood of eggs found in the jungle and was artificially hatched. Funny things was, my friends and I expected her to disappear into the jungle when kept as a free roaming chicken. She did disappear for an entire day initially, flying over my neighbour's two storey house and disappear from sight. She came back and now behaves like a normal village chicken, weary of humans but not frightened. When friends drop by, she rarely wanders near. But when I am alone, she can come right to my feet.

Her favourite night roosting spot is right on top of my main door (shucks!)

They are getting too bold for my liking hehehe! climbing all over and recently breaking my mortar grinder I left on the garden table.

And finally a brood of 4 chicks as a result. Do not know how the chicks will turn out, but there is high chance of getting henny feathered cocks as the cock that I have also comes from a sire with henny feathering. It appears to be a passable genetic mutation.

[Apart from the hen-like feathers, males with this trait have a substantially reduced reproductive ability, probably because the increased levels of plasma oestrogen inhibit spermatogenesis (George et al., 1990)]
The above in italics is taken from an article. Just so lucky that my male is did not lose his reproductive ability. A first clutch for cock and hen that has been successfully hatched. Although the initial eggs laid are 7, I can only find 4 live chickens. Maybe I can blame the neighbourhood cats :(

Note: It is illegal to keep the RJF in Malaysia (although it is quite difficult to prove which is the RJF and which has been cross bred with the local chicken). However, if they are not tied or caged, then it is perfectly alright ;)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Breeding Jambuls Pt1

Finally decided to utilise the empty aviary for my pair of Jambul (Red-whiskered Bulbul). Would introduce a pair of quail later to act as a cleaner for the aviary floor.
Its interesting to note the difference between keeping aviary and cage birds.
Firstly, there is much more space for them to fly and initially they are clumsy fliers. But after much practice, they become quite good but still not strong - maybe the side effect of years in a small cage ;)
Then there is allopreening (preening of the feathers of one bird by another), an endearing trait observed just a day after introducing the pair.
The method I chose to introduce the pair to the aviary is the lazy man's method of "dump & pray". As described, its a very easy method. Dump both of them in and pray they do not tear each other apart ;D
Male is an old bird from Layang-layang in Johor. Very old bird, probably above 10 years of age. Female is from Tasik Gelugor in Penang, a very tame bird firstly thought to be a male until she laid a couple of eggs.
Disadvantage of aviary birds is that there is much less control. Especially on the dry food and supplements that I can feed them. Too much fruits is made available that they eat very little of dry food, so my solution at the moment is to smear the fruits with dry pellets and control the quantity of mealworms given.

Other concern is whether the male is too old for breeding. Honestly, I am not really that concerned about it. I have not kept Jambuls in aviary before, so the chance to observe them in aviary settings is good enough. If they did breed, then it would be a bonus. There is an additional challenge of keeping the pests like squirrels, rats, mice, snakes, ants etc etc away. And keeping the aviary clean.

Today is day 4 for the pair in the aviary.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Zosterops Palpebrosa Pt.2

Follow up to the escaped Puteh event - around 7pm, saw a tiny bird flew out of the car porch when I went outside. That fella has to be the escaped bird. So, since he came back after all, I rig up the trap and just left it at that.

Woke up around 1am today and saw the little fella was safely in the trap:

A quick clean up of an old cage, top up of food and water and hope he is happy. Anyway this bird is destined for an aviary life (booked by a friend already), together with the female. Hope he does well in his new home later on ;)

Since I am touching on the topic of giving away Putehs, this is one fella up for adoption (also booked already). Thought I might as well document him on film and write a little about him.
He was bought from a bird shop in K.L., randomly picked by a friend and "buka" a little at home 2 weeks later. Can't remember how long I had him, but it must have been only months. He does not appear to have a very long "buka" (some folks call "petik") but he made it up by being quite steady - meaning he is willing and eager to sing at most places. So much different from the old Puteh I had before (singing in the background) that is only stabilising now (> 2 years), maybe due to my lack of experience in keeping Putehs.
I believe this fella can still improve. But I am going to be more selective now. As I believe a good competition bird needs time to become mature and reliabe. So, tentatively I am looking at a couple years of investment at least :( Now, when will Thor's time be? :D

Note: video taken around 1 am, after I woke up and switch on the light. They must have thought it was morning already :D

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Zosterops Palpebrosa Pt.1

After much debate about Oriental White-eye (OWE) and Everett's White-eye EWE), finally I decided to get a pair of OWE. Cannot really say though, but looks like OWE, the owner swears its a OWE and sound like OWE. So, it must be an OWE hahaha!

Unfortunately the male (shown in picture) decided to leave my house today (escaped from a gap in the bathing cage), I am just too tired to trap him back. Already kept all my Putehs, lazy to hang them out again. If I do, I think he will not go too far & comes back. Especially so since there is a female in the house :)
Well, I have always been firm about escaped birds. If they want to leave, by all means (especially when they escaped on their own) they can hehehe!
Unless they are the type that cannot fend for themselves (baby birds & handicapped birds), I am not too bothered.

Anyway, as a consolation, I just got one OWE that has a thunderous voice. I will call him Thor for the moment. Offered to me out of the blue by a trader. Deal is, I have to give him half of the proceed if I sell the bird. I reminded him that I do not sell birds and it could be a long wait for him hehehe!
Will think of something to give him later ;)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bird Sitting

I never had any experience with big parrots, so its a new kinda experience for me when a friend asked me to bird sit his Blue and Gold Macaw for a few days. Surprisingly not too noisy unless he is hungry. That too is at a tolerable level unlike some cockatoos and lories that I have encountered.

Magnificent bird. With good care, I would be six feet underground long before this fella is :D

Update: It took him 3 days to gain confidence & trust me. Or was it the other way round? It took me 3 days to be confident enough to offer my finger as potential chew toy? hahahaha!

Update with video:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Tale of a bird's tail

There is not as much preoccupation with a bird's tail as the White-rumped Shama (of course there are those Japanese chickens that are bred for tail length), but I am talking about a songbird. Nobody worries about how long a canary's tail would be or a Magpie Robin's ;) There is this hard tail, soft tail, curved tail (prawn tail), scissor tail etc.
The fault lies in the birds, I suppose. They just can't standardise their own tails and have to grow, some longer and some shorter than the average. Anyway, I am not complaining, just an interesting note.

Zeus had a bad year this year. He started his molt on 21st Sept 2009 and today (27th), he dropped one of his primary tail feather. His last primary tail feathers was shed on 9th Mar 2009, so this is an unscheduled molt. I suspected that he was ill for a short period of time and that, coupled with a few events, push him into a molt.

Of interest is that his tail recorded a longer length even when compared with the longest one from his previous molt. This coming from an old bird and the fact that during his previous molt, he was fed basically on a live food diet. The longer tail recorded was from a molt fed largely on a dry food mix (Shama Song Food with chicken feed). Hmmm.... food for thought. This current molt, I will be putting him on P28 (a dry food sourced from Singapore)

The below photo showed the newly dropped feather placed on top of the old feather (from previous molt). It didn't show a distinct difference, but I would think its a 0.2" difference.

Comes the next important question - how on earth does one measure the feather? how much allowance to give for the part that is embeded to the backside of the bird :D

Using my inexperienced estimate, Zeus has a tail length of 8.2"
Will update when the other tail falls, hopefully by tomorrow....

Update: 29th Sep 2009

Finally the other primary tail feather dropped. Don't know whether the 2 days difference will make the tail grows uneven. Base on current tail length, both primary tail feathers are of equal length.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bartering in birds

Sometimes it is so hard to find good owners for unwanted birds. So, when someone express interest in one of mine, he quickly found it delivered to his door step hahaha! Now, maybe I am in the wrong business if I decided to breed birds.

Anyway, the new owner insisted that I take one of his Green Singing Finch as a barter. Probably he felt uneasy to receive something free. So, I took home another Green Singer reluctantly. Not a bad singer, in the background is the sound of my other Green Singer challenging him. Now, where can I find a female to pair this fella off ;)

Mata Puteh

I have always regarded this tiny bird as the most demanding bird to keep. Demanding not so much in the sense of special requirements, but due to their traditional cage size, food and water cups which is small. Coupled with their healthy appetite, it is prudent to check daily the food and water level of these birds. What makes it challenging is when I am required to be away from home for a few days. Using tubes of water is a solution, but it makes the cage quite unsightly. Anyway, the issue is there is a very narrow safety margin for errors.

I nearly gave up on these birds, what more with one that only chooses to sing at home but not elsewhere. And finally I have been rewarded with my patience (2 years) and this little fella decides to sing anywhere. Many of my Putehs has been given away over time but somehow, this one stayed with me.

Will try him out in the next Puteh competition and see how he ranks.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Monitoring of Shamas' form

I have switched all of my Shamas to a brand that is available in Singapore called the P28 and so far am monitoring the Shamas' form as they developed. So far I am pleased with the result. A friend told me it can be further improved. Gosh! is there no end ? hahahaha! I suppose there never will be ;)

Will try to post another follow up video a month or so later:

Mr. Uneven tail:

Mr. Black feet:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Breeding the Zebra Dove

Update: 15th Sept 2009

Baby Merbok seen on the perch with parents. Only 1 hatched out of 2 eggs. Another "anak tunggal" for me ;)