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 ;)