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 ;)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Insights into birdkeeping

Last Saturday, I had a pleasant visit from 2 outstation friends whom I considered expert bird keepers. It is funny how sometimes over lunch while they were making fun at each other, you pick up pointers that have evaded you for a long time. I think I have been over eager at implementing things, trying out this and that, that I have forgotten the fundamentals of birdkeeping. I started this blog as a reminder of events, a place to jot down thoughts, place photos and videos. All so that one day I may look back and see what and where I have gone wrong. I am glad I did all that.

Now I will be revisiting the basics again - food. We are what we eat, I was often told. Now, to achieve that near complete & perfect food, its back to the drawing board (not actually drawing board, just spicing up existing food):

Below is a little experiment that didn't go too well. It has been aborted base on the tremendous drop in form. I tried changing the colour of Apollo 6's feathers. Not changing during molt, but changing it as it is. Unfortunately his form dropped and he started a molt. As shown in the picture, the wing feathers has actually developed a little white patch (after a month), but I expect him to shed those feathers as well. I have since switched him back to ordinary food.

I considered the objective has been met. Just to prove that the feather need not be molted to change colour and the dry version of the food actually worked. But with too much side effect for me to be comfortable with.
Apollo 6's form is improving and I am now giving him extra live food with addition of Vitamin B complex and he is back on an imported premium dry food.

Maybe its time to re-look into the food for Jambuls ;)

Update: 20th Sept 2009

Colour feeding food has been stopped some time already, but it appears that the white colouration is still spreading.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Breeding the Zebra Dove

A baby hatched on Merdeka Day (31st Aug 2009). This is an auspicious occassion. However only 1 hatched out of 2 eggs laid. Considered "anak tunggal" ? Like this I have a lot of "anak tunggal" to bring up hahaha!

This is a good sign as the doves managed to breed against all odds. Firstly, the location of the aviary is not suitable, cars are parked directly in front of the aviary. At night it can be disturbing to the birds and during day time it can be intimidating. Further aggravating the problem would be the frequent visits by the neighbourhood stray cats, 2 large intimidating dogs wandering freely at night and the low location of the nest which makes the baby and incubating parent "very exposed".

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Training of the Hill Myna

Didn't know how to train this fella. But appears to be very tame, so I decided to give him some space to fly. Below is me playing with him in the aviary. Still not too good at flying and the perches are a bit shakey. Anyway, just to introduce him to the outdoor and more space than the Shama cage that he is in at the moment.

At night, took him out to share some TV time with me. The ceiling fan needs to be off. He is capable of short and clumsy flight i.e. from the living room to the kitchen. hmmm.... thinking about flying outdoor, must do some research on how to make a harnest.

J.B. Bird Competition

On 6th Sept 2009, I went with Hock to Tmn Ungku Tun Aminah to participate in the bird competition there. Since I followed him, I was undecided whether to take Zeus (Shama), Ten (the ten year old Jambul) or Kekek (the Jambul with long kekek). Finally decided to take Kekek. We met at 5.30a.m. and off we go for an early breakfast in Bakri then reaching Tmn Ungku Tun Aminah around 9a.m. Hock brought along his Magpie (champ in previous comp in Batu Pahat on 1st Aug).

The place didn't change much since I was there 2 years ago. Met up with Mr. John Yim and just manage to register our birds in the nick of time before the competition starts at 9.30a.m.

To make a long story short, Hock's Magpie got 8th place, Kekek didn't get any placing (out of 60 Jambuls competing) and along the way home, I manage to pick up a Spotted Dove in Yong Peng. This Dove has an eye missing. I just felt sorry for him. Anyway, this is the best way to ensure that he remains in my home for long. Can't let him go, can't sell him hahaha!

Looks like he is stuck with me and I with him, for good, for bad, in sickness and health...... till death do us part ;)

I called him "Lanun" which means pirate. Now, where can I get an eye-patch for him?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Hill Myna

Wow! I have finally moved to the dark side ;) figure of speech ;)

Got myself a baby Java Hill Myna. Does he has a big appetite.
Anyway, I have digressed a little from songbirds to talking-birds. Sue me ;)
There is a load that I have to come to terms with. Extra noise level and poop level hehehe! concern on the iron accumulation commonly faced by this specie (hemochromatosis).

Actually I got this Myna with the purpose of entertaining my children and guests (comes Chinese New Year). Kind of cool if he can say "Hello Marcus", "Hello Michelle", "Gong Xi Fa Cai" hahaha! Then comes the challenge. I do sometimes talk to my dogs and birds, but I do not do so in the presence of people (didn't want them to think I am nuts or something). So, how am I going to teach this young bird to talk. Ah! then comes modern technology to the rescue. I got my children to repeat the verses I want the Myna to learn, record it and transfered it to my handphone. I read somewhere, birds learn faster when listening to children or women. So that takes care of one department.

Whenever I am free I just leave my phone playing non-stop (in loops) near the Myna's cage and (keeping fingers crossed) he will one day learn to say what we wanted. Yeah, this is fun.