Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bird Traps - review Pt. 3

This is a trap normally used to trap the Peaceful Dove, Zebra Dove, Merbok or ...... this bird comes in various names ;)

An open "jebak":

After it has sprang and closed:

When not in used, folded to keep:

Last Year's Tai Mong

Kept one 6" Tai Mong last year. Thought it would be a potential long tail this year...... but alas, turned out to be still 6" after the first adult molt hahaha!

Hmmm...... anyway, will see how his form improves after a few months. Appears to be of "chai" form at the moment. Will need to give him more time ;)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bird Traps - review Pt. 2

The second trap I showcased earlier was a meant to trap small bulbuls e.g. the Yellow-vented bulbuls, Stripe-throated bulbuls etc.
Shown below is the trap concerned.

"A" is a metal hook holding the trap open. The trap door or rather, net in this case is powered by spring. When the bird lands on the perch "B", it triggers a string that pulls down the hook "A" and thus releasing the trap which will spring into place as below.

The perch "B" is angled too steeply because the string broke and I redid the string hastily. It could and should be rectified.
The flaw in the design is the cup like bottom ("C") that will invite the birds to perch on the side rather than the triggering perch. To rectify it, the cup needs to be camouflage with leaves. Most birds will not perch on leaves and therefore the trigger perch would become the only option.
The advantage of the design is also the cup like bottom which accords more space for the trapped bird.

Bird Traps - review Pt. 1

What began as a "syok sendiri" (self amusement) blog, actually have readers hahaha!
OK, this is what I owes a reader. More in-depth look into the bird traps available in this region of the world. But also bear in mind that a lot of traps are custom made, so there may probably be one of its kind only in the world ;)

To start with, let me write a little bit on the mechanism of traps for ground birds (most often the Barred buttonquail and White-breasted waterhen), the disadvantages of the ones I have and the thought that goes behind the design.

"A" is a metal rod, for the purpose of falling down and locking the trap door.
"B" is a thin rod protruding out through the top (from a sheath of small metal tube) with the purpose of holding the trap door open.
"C" is a pedal that will trigger "B" when stepped on by the bird. The trap door is operated by sheer gravity power, helped by the weight of rod "A"

The above is how it looks like after closing its trap door. Notice rod "A" has fallen and acted as a lock to secure the trap door. The advantage of this design is a space is available in a small section after the trap door is triggered.

Disadvantage lies in the open back and side which will make the tame bird acting as a lure inside visible. So the wild bird may come from other sides as well. The only way to rectify this is to weave the side and back to block its view.

A bigger image will appear by clicking on the pictures.

It is a design base on the trap I showcased earlier on

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Training of a Shama

I was told the quickest way to make a Shama sing and become fierce is to periodically expose him to the wild Shama. It seems they get real angry seeing one of their kind flying around and singing.

I am trying out a second alternative. If you can't find a wild Shama, create one hehehe!

Step 1: get a potential candidate. It must be tame and not easily spooked.

Step 2: get him used to being outside his cage

Step 3: get him to learn how to re enter his cage. I find this a bit tricky unless I design a perch to be installed in front of the door hmmm......

Step 4: haven't reach here yet ;)

This is Step 1:

This is Step 2:

Eventually the plan is to get him used to getting in and out of his cage and then bring in the Shamas to be trained (those inside cages). The free flying one outside the cage is the "fake" wild bird ;)
Wonder whether it will work? Should work in theory.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Playing Birds

Often, I would be asked a difficult question (at least I find it difficult to answer) -"why do you keep birds?"

How do you explain a "hobby"? where do one starts?
Bird keeping is a lot of hard work, I should caution any new beginners. And if one does not enjoy the "work", he better stays away from this "hobby". As for me, I enjoy all the process. First I get the raw material (the bird) - and the process of getting this "material" to work with is fun to begin with.... beg, steal or borrow hahaha! ("steal" shouldn't be taken literally - this is one entire topic by itself)
A little on the above process - this is where friends are made and enemies created ;)

Then finally I get the bird to work on, visualising realistically the best outcomes, then I set forth the journey.... conditioning, food, etc.... (improvising along the way). Basically reads.... work!
See - all basic needs have to be attended to: food, water, shelter and then for mental health.... bath, sun and interactions (depending on species).
So, where does the fun begin? My answer is it should be fun or made fun all the way. Some people view the molting period as the most boring phase of all, others thinks its the taking care of chicks. Its true to a certain degree, but one must come to terms with the reality - its is a natural process and it has to happen. So, better learn to enjoy the process.

Molting season could be an interesting event. Currently 80 to 90% of my birds are molting and when viewed as a transitionary period, it is exciting waiting for the outcomes after adjusting for their diet and additional vitamins (which for me is always in a perpetual flux - to the horror of most of my mentors, I should say). Its an occasion comparable to a caterpillar that is turning itself into a cocoon and awaiting the "big day" where it will transform to a beautiful or ugly butterfly.

For example, there is one Shama that has a long and short primary feather and after his molt, it is still uneven. Currently he is undergoing another molt and has dropped his primary tail feathers (one measured 8.4" and another 7.3") and the anticipation of the outcome adjusting for his new diet is a major event I am looking forward to (whatever the outcome).

Then there is the fun of interacting with the birds. Some I keep my distance, some I interact with more depending on whether I am training a pet or competition bird. Below is fun that actually looks fun hahaha! Apollo 6's first day learning to "play hand". My eventual expectation of him is free flying in the garden (after I take care of the neighbourhood cats problem muahahaha!)

Then there is the fun of interacting with the humans behind the birds. Gathering at places just to let the birds yell at each other and the owners gossip and bragging among themselves ;)

And not forgetting the adventure and fun of searching for the champion of cahmpions.... the many birds we have to audition and shortlist, the errors, trials, disappointment and euphoria.

Below is a video of a friendly "chai" at home. Birds from left to right: stiff toe, Troy's jambul and Chong's jambul. All have stories behind them. And knowing their stories and tracking their progress is an entertainment by itself.

Now, when I am asked again why I keep birds? I would be loss again for words to explain......

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Trapping Birds

Recently 3 merbok pikat made their way to my house. One of them, reputedly caught between 80 to 100 birds. In the handler's own words - "at least 80 and possibly more than 100". I have heard of this pikat 2 years ago when he is just beginning to be trained and started to catch 1 or 2 birds. It has come a long way from those days.


I actually am not too interested in trapping birds to keep. So, a friend once asked me why am I collecting pikat birds. Lets just make a twist to an old saying "a bird in hand is better than 2 in the bush". Just knowing that I can get the 2 in the bush if I wanted too is a fulfilling and powerful thought to have ;)

Hahahaha! anyway, I have yet to pass my conscience when trapping birds. Always, I would have a picture in my mind of young chicks eagerly (and hungrily) waiting for their parents to return to feed them. Which is why I am not too eager to trap and keep them. I normally release them on the spot, so that they could return to their life. Maybe with a little ruffled feathers and sometimes with a leg ring attached.

Of course there are exceptions. If I wanted to, I only trap 1 bird, so that the other partner is free. And I try to make sure its the male (anyway that's what most people are interested in) as the female would make better single parent than the male I suppose. Or the odd solo bird like the latest Mata Puteh in my collection. He (confirmed male) came alone and since I have vacancy for 1 Puteh, so, its his bad luck :D

Over time, kind friends have taught me many methods of catching birds. Some too elaborate (read: too much work), some methods downright simple to the point of unethical. But I always like the idea of training a pikat to lure the wild birds. At least some form of skills and luck needed here.

Pikat from Chong:

Pikat from Sri Petaling:

I think I have to declare full house as far as Merboks are concerned.