Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hwamei Pt.2

Hwamei Pt.1 was posted on 29th Dec 2009.
So, part 2 came one year later. Bird is now somewhat more stable, but not what I would consider "jadi". Still kept mostly covered. Nowhere to "chai" :-D
Hope when it is time to update on Pt.3, there is more to show....

The below are a few clips put together as the pause in between is too long. There is a female Hwamei in the house. Variety vice is a letdown so far.... sigh!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Keeping Grasshoppers

To date, I have kept a over 2,000 grasshoppers alive for a month already in a little experimentation. Of course some died, but very few of them in comparison. Will start to document the different types soon. At least a photo for the file. You may never know, with the booming plantations (which uses pesticides generously) and housing projects, these insects may one day be as rare as the Dodos :-D

Exit Plan

Due to the many changes that will/may be happening in 2011, it is probably prudent that I have an exit plan for my passion for all things avian. Maybe keeping a dog would be much less stressful.
With a hefty fine of up to RM100,000 for keeping birds without proper documents.... maybe all these conservation thing is better left to the government.

I have made it a rule not to profit from sale of birds and have therefore always sold birds at or below cost. It is my hope that the exit plan would not need to be executed. The emergency exit plan has to take into consideration birds that can never be safely released back to the wild. Oh! so many things to consider.... will make a trip to the Wildlife Department this coming Tuesday....

Note: exit plan applies to breeding local birds only (does not include house birds ;-))

Tanin experiment

In a published study, birds given an option of tanin (read green tea) and water has been observed to regulate their own tanin comsumption (read drinks both).

Below is my own experiment with a Red-whiskered bulbul.... now, how I wish I have a CCTV installed :-D

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Free flying Puteh

The time is just right to train another free flying Mata Puteh. It can't be hurried. Base on logic, it must gain confidence in exiting its own cage before confidently & reliably returning.

So, session one wasn't so successful even though it very much longed to get a bite out of the orange that was placed so near its cage. But over time, if I am consistant......

Maybe I need to place a proper perch outside ;-)

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tanin rich water

Keeping some softbill like the Hill Myna, a potential problem looms over the horizon. Subject to iron poisoning, a.k.a. hemochromatosis - an accumulation of iron that is known to occur in birds such as the Hill Myna and Toucan, many ways have been suggested to combat the problem.
Nobody knows how in the wild the birds overcome these problems.... and one of the hypothesis is uptake of tanin rich water which seems to slow down the absorbtion of iron. Plus being a good antioxidant that may detoxifies the liver err..... no proof yet ;)

So, feeding an imported low iron diet.... tried I have. It is yet to be proven though, as in the wild, such birds consume much iron rich food. So, to save cost, I have converted it to maintenance chicken feed (considered a moderately low nutrition food). Another tips is to limit fruits intake which is rich in vitamin c (improves absorption of iron). This I personally feel is not right as in the wild, these softbills' main diet consist of fruits. So, picking up tea drinking is my choice.

Tea of choice would have been "Pu Er" as it is rich in tanin (dark colour) although the green tea is much better researched (don't know why, but the green tea is getting all the publicity). But decided to just feed "lio pau" tea as a box was given to me as present. Very similar to "pu er" and ahem! good for the bird keeper too....

Below is the colour of the "lio pau" tea even after the 5th time brewing....

Nobody seems to be talking about hemochromatosis in Red-whiskered Bulbuls.... either because they are not commonly kept by our Western counterparts (and therefore no research) or it just is not a problem with them. No harm giving them the tea treatment.... me thinks :-D

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Historical pic of the bird trade

Now, I may be infringing on some copyright thing, but base on good faith and for fair educational use (taken from the pages of "The Encyclopedia of Malaysia Animals - Prof Dr. Yong Hoi Sen"), I hope it is allowed ;-)

I do not remember such scene in my younger days, but assuming its from old archives and it is not the painter's own figment of imagination, then it would make an interesting scene to sell birds in such manner.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Cat busting

Quite a productive week of cat busting. 3 cats caught & relocated. Too bad there are none of those cat eating foreign workers in my area, otherwise I would just give them the trap and.... muahahaha!

Oh! and a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all. May this season brings you & your family joy and happiness in abundance....

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2nd round of Canary keeping

A couple of years back, I bought a Canary from Macau in Taman Tasik Selatan, K.L.. Very hard working fella. It lasted maybe 2 months in my home before I gave it away to a friend. The song just wasn't for me. At the time, I think it's song was very artificial, meaning it doesn't sound natural. Not the type of song you would expect to hear in the jungle. Well, they have been captive bred for so long I suppose they have evolved away from their wild anchestors.

So, today I have decided to give these little fellas another chance to enchant me. There wasn't much to choose from. The nice looking ones did not sing and this fella above belted out a short song for me. Nails on the leg are all twisted in a deformed way, but never mind.... such deformed birds would last longer in my home as nobody would want them. Bird keepers are such perfectionists.... sigh!

See how this fella fare....

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Another mystery

This is one of those mysteries that I can only make a calculated guess on but will probably unable to conclude with any certainty.
The cage was hung on a clothes line, damaged but still on the clothes line. So, it rules out the cat. Bird is still alive and well (Mata Puteh) inside, that may also rule out the Sparrowhawk as it is one of those determined hunters that won't give up.... unless frightened by off before it manage to get to the bird. Shrike attacks are not uncommon, but they normally do not have the strength to break cages. Human carelessness have been ruled out by interviews ;-)
Starlings, although abundant, so far have not been seen to be harassing the birds. Crows are scarce, but cannot be ruled out altogether, but with their intelligence, they should have got the bird.... Tree Shrews and squirrels are unlikely climbers on the thin clothes line....

Hmmm.... hoping its the Sparrowhawk that is causing the nuisance :-D

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Partial Albino Spotted Dove

Interesting specimen spotted outside a phone shop....

What appears to be a partial albino Spotted Dove....

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wrong place, wrong equipment

A Red-whiskered Bulbul kept in a Shama cage, hang up on a Merbok pole, in a Merbok "chai" place - all the wrong equipment.... but since when am I concerned with what others think hahaha!

Now, why would I do that? basically after spending much time in a tall cage, I thought a change of environment would be welcomed. See how the fella develops from there or get spoiled by that.... never try never know.... my motto

I remember a word of wisdom from a true master (non avian related) "Everybody can learn the rules.... to be a real master, you must learn the exception to the rules".

.... I am trying to learn.... I am trying to learn muahahaha!

Molting Shama

Something is terribly wrong with this bird.... just out from a molt and started another major molt. If I were to change its water or food while he is still inside, he will just whack my hand like a frenzied Magpie. Still singing daily, but appears not to know the word "die". Sigh! reminds me of another bird that molts until it can't fly hahaha!

Feeding it plenty grasshoppers, feeding on Nutrapro & ordered some food reinforcement from Ipoh. Hoping that it helps....


Heard a lot of rumours of what is in store for birdkeepers in the year 2011.... didn't go and verify it, but the new year is just around the corner. Let's wait and see....

As at the moment of writing, it still remains rumours.
1) Licenses will be issued for Magpie Robins
2) Each is limited to 3 birds
3) Breeding of Shamas will be allowed
4) Breeding of Straw-headed Bulbul will not be allowed

Base of item (4) in the list, it would then be a very sad day for the conservation of the Bulbuls in Malaysia when in Thailand and Indonesia, they have successfully bred them in captivity commercially.

I will go collect my canary from the shop tomorrow.... as a precaution, at least such birds won't be a magnet for future harassment :D

Friday, December 17, 2010

Checking temperature

Bought a gadget to monitor temperature variation. In tropical climate, temperature variation is not too great. But its good to know the etreme variations in a room. Especially those that are near the windows & get direct sunlight :-)

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Encyclopedia of Malaysian Animals

I am no book reviewer, but thought I highlight something I find interesting.... whenever it is Malaysian fauna related. Only complain is, the details are not in-depth enough and got me wanting to find out more. Can't blame them though, there is only so much you can cramp into a book that attempts to cramp all Malaysian animals into :-D

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Off Road Misadventure

It is one of those days that you have the blessings of knowing and experiencing the good and helpful nature of the human side. On an outing (chasing after an elusive bird of course) recommended by a friend (got a call on the way home) - Thought I will just go and see the place only as I do not have my bino nor my traps with me.

Making a long story short, I had a little experience most off-road hobbyists encounter on a daily basis :-D

Here, I should mention much gratitude to 4 young Malay lads who tried to help and got muddied all over their bodies. Even though unsuccessful, it was the attempt that matters. Thanks too to a friend who drove all the way there to try pulling me out & loan of the metal chain.
Thanks too to the unknown Malay gentleman along with his family who finally pulled me out. Much gratitude :-)

Now I know why some folks just love 4WD. I am beginning to like them too :-D

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Game chicken

A very nice rooster that I saw in a shop. Retired fighter, but at RM600, a little on the higher end. Could easily get at least 10 Red Jungle Fowl for that price.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Learned a cool trick to highlight birds in a photo. Greyscale everything except the subject ;-)
Goes to show that old dogs do learn new tricks....

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Grasshopper species

Is this the grasshopper locally known as the "Lionhead" grasshopper?
2 persons I have checked with thinks so. According to the grasshopper catcher, he can probably cath 2 or 3 only in a single outing.

Top view....

The male - smaller in size

These are more common. 800 to 1000 caught in a single outing. This guy must be a pro. Even at home when trying to get them out, they are quick and strong jumpers.

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Homing Sparrows

I was at a friend's house where he caught some house sparrows. On a good day, if he bthers to send to the shop, even a house sparrow can fetch RM1 each. Anyway, he was lazy to send to the shop, the 8 sparrows that he caught. He is unwilling to release near his home, as they are viewed as pests that eats his Spotted Doves' seeds and their droppings are messy in his house compound. He ask me to release near my house.

I stay maybe 15km away only and I told him they would find their way back. So, as an experiment, I tagged all the 8 sparrows with the smallest cable tie I could find and release them in my house compound. I ask him to look out for sparrows with such markings on their right leg. Just to see if they can be safely released 15km away from their feeding ground.


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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Scene from China

Well, didn't get to see much birding activity in China. Passed by a few houses with birds.
So far, below is the house with the most birds I have seen on the visit. One of the Hwamei is very loud....

Back home, on a more down to earth topic - the right to live.
As any bird keeper that lives near wooded areas, there will bound to be encounters with pests sooner or later. From the civet cat to the house cat, sooner or later one of these fellas is bound to show up. I have had my fair share of encounters and mishaps. To retaliate is easy, I have retaliated many times. But when I am sure the pest is innocent, it is only fair that they come to no harm.

So, I have decided to release an innocent tree shrew. Found not guilty in my court of law :-D

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Discolouration of a Jambul's feathers

I was alarmed initially when I came back from a 9 days holiday to find one of my Red-whiskered Bulbul all puffed up. There are still water in the cups but there are no food in its cup. First response was to fill up the cup with food which I did. (Was told later that its a wrong move, as the bird could overeat and when it drinks water, the pellets would all swell up and could cause sudden death)

Luckily, nothing untoward happened. A friend was supposed to drop by every 2 or 3 days to see to the birds but he was absent for 7 days because my dog was patrolling the house with much enthusiasm. Sigh! another logistic thing I have to look into....

Previously the chest feathers are greyish black in colour and they do not meet in the middle like the brown feathers. So, this colouration must have been a sign of poor health. Gave it a daily dose of fruits - papaya, orange and bananas.... in that order. All fortified with vitamin B complex which I crushed into powder and sprinkled on the fruits.

Chronology of recovery.... next day, no fluffy feathers (in the pic), 3rd day - heard his signature "kekek", 5th day (today) - all seems well. Voracious appetite - can finish his dry pellets in 2 days (usually 4 days) and 1 small size banana in a single day. Whew! close call.... hopefully no permanent damage. Brown feathers kind of cool :-D

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So far, I have been avoiding the hookbills especially non local residential species. But anyway, to hone in on training birds for free flight, the Lovebirds fit the bill perfectly. Bold little birds especially those handfed ones and not easily spooked for their size - not to mention that it won't burn a big hole in the pocket ;-).
I still prefer the songbirds though. This hookbill is adopted for a purpose ;-) Collected today (4th Dec) while I was on my way to MAHA 2010 (that will be another story).

My son has named it "Play", for obvious reasons. It is good for him to get accustomed to handling birds at a young age. Good for me hahaha!
Anyway, I believe it could be flown outdoor when a reliable recall can be achieved. How to achieve that is still unknown to me :-D

The face of joy ;-)

Play's wing has been clipped. I plan to let it grow so that its flight could be better controlled and stronger. But it comes with a lot of danger, I realised - from a lot of common items like the aquarium, larger birds (hill myna), stove, oil lamp, cats, fan, toilet etc etc.....
ooooo......! maybe I won't let it fly after all ;-)

Well....... let's see how it goes......

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mystery carcass

I have been taught to look at things as signs. Things always appear to tell us something.... or so I was told. Anyway, I have never been good at deciphering anything hahaha!
So, it is a mystery when a leftover carcass of a bird was found in my garden today. Immediate thought was that a cat must have devoured one of my birds and left an unfinished wing as a token of appreciation :-/

But after checking that all the birds are still intact in their cages, I must wonder what it all means. that a Sparrowhawk caught a prey and devoured it on my rooftop and drop the balance? That a cat caught a wild bird and again left the balance on the grass? hmmmm....... all possible explanation but isn't it easier to get one of my birds that are placed low on the ground? Aren't those fat Zebra Doves hanging on the patio juicier for the Sparrowhawk than the scrawny little birds flying free in the garden?

Hmmm.....! questions, questions, questions, which I will probably never get the answers. Next project must be to get a huge crystal ball for me to gaze at. Must be an omen......

Too big to belong to a sparrow...... too yucky to investigate further...... maybe a bulbul

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Breeding Shamas in bamboo cages

The most common complains regarding bird breeding is the lack of space. It affects me too. So I have finally decided to pair Zeus off with a tame female I have. The female goes into the cage first with Zeus nearby. When the time is right, Zeus would be introduced into the cage and hopefully they don't kill each other.

Well, this won't be the first time it has been done. I have heard of successes before. Just want to experience it ;-)

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