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.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Hi bro,
You have raised an nteresting point.I take tail length as the entire length of the feather ie. including the white part of the shaft which is embedded.Others may just start from the vane.

Regardless, for purposes of observation it is best to decide which method to use, and stick to it for consistency.

Best regards.