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Friday, December 24, 2010

4 months old Serama chicks

These cooks and hens are about 4 months old.  They have potential to become a better quality Serama, but overall, they are more pets quality than show quality Serama.

A pair of the Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) visit every morning to eat Serana's left over food.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

White-rumped shama chicks of 2010 season

Both of them is almost or just finish their first molt

Male 6 months old

Female, also around 6 months old

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Summary of the 2010 season

This season overall is a good year for me as I am able to have a pair of young chick that have the same or might be better than their parents in term of body shape and tail length.  Compare to my friends and everyone else who breeds white rumped shama in the world, my birds are just normal with not thing special but to me they are the best breeding stock I can have at the moment.  The best male I have had 8.5in in tail length at his 2nd year.  After this molting season, I hope he can attain 9in in tail length.  The best female has tail length at 5in.  I hope this pair will be the foundation for breeding longer tail shama.

I have lots of babies this year, but also lost quite a few babies starting around mid toward the end of season due to possible virus infected cricket stock that happened here in the US. 

I lost one baby male chick that have lots of potential due to predator (hawk).

I also lost the first female shama that produced 7 clutches of eggs two year in a row with lots of babies.  Her death is due to my carelessness and sudden cold temperature/ heavy rain right around when she began to molt. 

There are only two of the four chicks of the last clutch of the season survive until now.  It will be another month or so before they begin to enter molting process.

All my birds are nearly finish or just finish their molting cycle.  With the improvement in heat lamp inside each aviary and better protection from rain and predators, I hope next year I won't have any mishap like this year again.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fall begins yet they are still breeding

Fall season official starts few days ago and to my surprise I recently found out that one of my breeding shama pair has few chicks in their nest.  For the last two weeks, I think the breeding season is over and with busy schedule, I didn't watch the birds much except come out to feed and change water.  I noticed few empty egg shells on the aviary floor last week but just think they are from previous clutch and the bird just moving them around.  Few days ago, I start to hear the chick call and the parents bring food to the nest.  So excited!  The parents starts to show sign of molting yet still be a dedicate parents and feed their chicks constantly.  I love keeping White-rumped shama! :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Another breeding season is end. Birds are molting...

I think the breeding season here in the US is ended already or about to end in just few more weeks.  One of the adult male shama is in the molting process.  The other shama pairs are still singing with no sign of molting yet.  One pair seems to still incubate some eggs.  Most of the chicks born this year is in the molting process right now.

Male #1

Female #1

Female #2

Male #2

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Earthworm, another additional food source

Earthworm that I found in my backyard during digging the soil can be an additional food source for the shama thrush.  I know these earthworms are safe to feed the birds because I do not spray any insecticide/ or any harm chemical in my yard.  All the birds are eating the earthworms and even feed to their chicks if given plenty.  My backyard doesn't big enough to have unlimited supply of earthworms so I consider feeding earthworms as treat food, not a staple food that can be feed everyday.

First time raising waxworm for bird

This is the breeding waxworm kit that I bought from the internet a while ago but haven't have a chance to set up until now.  The kit contains a clear plastic container with lid, food for waxworm, and egg laying material.  The lid have small screen mesh on top to allow air exchange.  Egg laying material is just like a carton box that cut and glue to resemble a bee nest.  Waxworm when mature will turn to a moth and lay eggs inside bee nest so basically anything that have multiple of small holes that the moth can lay eggs into can be use.  As for the food, I have to buy the food as I don't know the entire contents of it but I know it has honeybee since the waxworm feed on wax/honeybee in nature.
If you want to read more on how to raise waxworm, you can read this post that I posted a whild back: as it has links to where to purchase a breeding kit as well as article on breeding/raising them.

Monday, August 23, 2010

WOOT, I finally have some fertile serama eggs

After 20 or so eggs laid by the serama hen that are infertile, finally I have 3 eggs that are fertile.  I don't really know the reason why the roo can't do his job properly, but that's ok with me as I'm not into breeding this type of chicken.  I only keep them as pets and if they happens to have chicks, I might raise them up and give away to my friends who ever want them.
Here is a pic of fertile egg at about 8 days old in the incubation.  You can see few blood vessels are forming and tiny chick at the middle right.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Last chicks of the season???

These chicks might be the last few chicks of the season.  Total of 3 chicks left the nest today.  Not sure the female will lay another round of eggs and if the male can still have enough form to fertilize.  Last year, 7th clutch was infertile.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Another live food source: Blaptica Dubia

If you remember, I posted a while back about my friend DT who breeds crickets, mealworms, superworms, Blatta lateralis, and Blaptica dubia (  I copy DT's footstep and also try to breed B. lateralis (about 1.5 years ago) and B. dubia (about a year ago).   I start out with about 300 mix/adult D. dubia and about a year later, I would say that I still have at least 3,000 dubia roaches right now (very conservative number) with regular weekly feeding of about two hundred or so roaches to all of the birds for the last 3-4 months.  The adult roach can reach close to 2in in length and mature at around 5 months.  I think they are slow growth compare to B. lateralis, but they are slower than B. lateralis and almost no smell at all.  When feeding these roaches to the shama thrush, only smallest babies or immature roaches at around 1cm can be feed as these roaches are almost round shape when at 1 inch long or less.  Bigger roaches (1 inch or more in length) has relative hard shell and too big for the shama thrush to tear into small bite size.  It would take very long time for the shama thrush to eat big roach so I only feed small one.
These B. dubia roaches are very easy to keep as long as some basic requirements are met.  Keep them warm and provide regular food (anything from dried food for bird, fish, dog, cat, etc... to fruits, carrots, potato, and most veggies)/water are the only two requirements (beside container to keep them) to success keeping and breeding these roaches.  They are very hardy and not easy to die like crickets.  In no time, anyone who keep them can have lots and lots of baby roaches.  Because of slow growing and mature rate, starting with few hundred roaches can be enough to feed one or two shama thrush all year round without the need to buy other live foods (but I still believe feeding variety of live foods will keep the shama thrush healthy and thrive in long term in captivity).
One other note, I found that most shama thrush will choose to eat crickets over B. dubia or B. lateralis if given a choice.  They also pick crickets to feed their young over B. dubia or B lateralis if given a choice.  The reason is the outer cover of crickets is much softer than the roaches and maybe the taste is better :-))

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Venomous spider as food for the Shama Thrush?

The picture below are some of the widow spider that I found in the backyard. I know these spiders are highly venomous and great harm can occur if get bitten. In the US, these little spiders can be found almost everywhere in the backyards, gardens, or any secluded, protected sites around the house. Total of 5 species of widow spider in the US and judging from the picture that I took, there are at least 2 species of widow spider: the infamous black widow spider and the brown widow spider. At night with long forceps and a flashlight, those spiders are easy catch. I usually catch around 20 adult widow spiders every couple of months and feed to all of my Shama Thrush on the next day. I killed the spider first before feeding to the bird and all of the birds just love to eat those spiders. So far, I have feed all of my shama thrush widow spider (few spiders every couple of months for each bird) for the last 2 years without any adverse effect to the bird. In fact, the bird just went crazy when seeing a spider and just can't wait to eat one just like giving candy to kid. :)
I don't know any benefit to the bird by eating spider but according to few researched paper, spider in general contains high level of taurine acid. Feeding baby bird with high taurine acid food, according to article in "... were on average much bolder and better at learning in adulthood, than their counterparts who were not fed the extra taurine." ( During the last 2 years of giving few spiders to the bird, I did not see parent shama bird feed their chicks any spider. The parents always eat all the spiders that I give them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Zebra dove (Geopelia striata): My newest pet birds

I kept Chinese spotted dove (Laceneck dove) and breeding them for about 2 years until few years ago when I decide to concentrate in keeping and breeding white rumped shama so I sold them all.  Recently, I get the urge to keep dove again and begin to get interest in zebra dove as this kind of dove also come from Asia, smaller than Chinese spotted dove, and the song is very nice.  Not that I don't like Chinese spotted dove anymore (I still do love them), but it's kind of hard to find them or have to pay premium price for them, so does zebra dove.
Out of just pure luck, I drop by one of the local bird farm/wholesale and I saw 4 zebra doves in the same cage with close to hundred of diamond doves.  When I ask for the price, I'm just surprise that the price for a pair of zebra dove is just almost twice the price of a pair common diamond dove.  I decide to get all four zebra doves available, but when checking for sex, it seems that there is only one female out of the four and one presumed male has little defect on the legs (still able to perch and walk fine as normal).  After having a little talk with the owner, I get some discount for the defected male :)
After bring home, within hour, three of four doves start to call.  Both presumed female and male made the same call as seen on the clip below which contain presumed male and female zebra dove (female is on the right, male is on the left hand side).

This clip below show the other two presumed male zebra dove preening each other.  Notice the one on the right has defected legs.  If they are turn out be be male as the seller said, then I might do little special project of hybridization between male zebra dove and female red diamond dove, hehe...

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hand rear shama thrush chicks

This is the first time I ever hand rear any chicks so I learn as I go on.  Thanks to the internet, I am able to read as much information available from other hobbyist's blogs, forums, message boards about this topic.  These two chicks are about 6 days old. and have not feed for about two hours.  Similar to what parent bird feed them, I pick medium size crickets which approx. 1.5cm long, remove two big rear legs, crush the head of the cricket and feed to the chicks.  I will try to feed the chicks approximate every hour with couple of crickets or until they stop begging for food.  I also dip/dust few crickets with multivitamin, vitamin B complex, and calcium (powder).  Since they are 6 days old, I just keep them indoor in styrofoam incubator with temperature at night will be 78F and day will be around 85F.

This is the wastes of the chicks after big feeding:

Seven days old.  Their eyes are start to peak to see the outside world for the first time:

06/29/2010: Eight days old and they are fully open their eyes. I think they can see and recognize the surroundings. I can see clearly their tail feathers now compare to yesterday. I feed them about 10 times per day from 8AM in the morning to about 11PM at night. Each time is about 2-3 crickets.

This is typical poops that the chicks secret through out the day.  Sometimes smaller, sometimes large like this (appprox. 1cm across, 3cm long) due to how long between feeding and how much feeding I feed the chicks in previous feed.

06/30/2010: Nine day olds.
07/01/2010: Ten days olds

07/06/2010:  One chick died early morning of 07/04 during my out of town trip.  The cause is that I did not have time to feed it throughout the day (only 3-4 times per day), and de-hydration due to turn on A/C in the hotel room.  The other chick is surviving the four days out of town trip, but is a little weak.  So far, the lone survivor still eating as normal but half sleep and did not active much.
07/10/2010:  The other chick also died but due to some kind of infection on the eye.  One of the eye seems very wet and the bird close its eye most of the time.  Few days later, the bird almost close its eyes all the time and pass away.

Shama pair (H3N1 and H2N1) 2010 Breeding Season

I'll update things happen to this pair in this thread for this 2010 breeding season.

02/17/2010: The pair is introduced to see each other the first time.  The male is in bamboo cage and he can see his mate in her aviary.
02/19/2010:  Introduce the male into the aviary.
03/01/2010: Observed the female starts to carrying materials to build the nest (coconut fibers, dried bamboo leaves, small twigs, etc...)
03/03/2010: Observed mating of the pair around noon.
03/08/2010: I think the female is already laid some eggs, but don't know for sure.  Saw she enters the nest a few times in the morning, each time around 30 min long.  At night, she still sleep outside so if there are some eggs inside the nest, it probably less than 3 eggs.
03/10/2010:  Tonight is the first night the female sleeps inside the nest which means that she starts to incubate her egg(s).  Judging from last year experience, there are probably 3 eggs inside already and first hatching should be on 03/21/2010.  Woot!
03/21/2010:  Eleven days have passed and no sign of hatching yet.  Hope they will start to hatch by tomorrow.  There might be a delay in hatching due to environment temperature since outside temperature was on the cool side (upper 60s, low 70sF) for the first few days beginning of the incubation process.  Average temperature the last week is about 75-80F day time and night time is about 52F.
03/22/2010:  There is at least one egg hatched this morning.  Saw two half empty eggshell on the floor, one from each end of the egg so it could be just come from one egg, or could be from two eggs and the rest of the eggshells are missing.

03/23/2010: There is at least another egg hatch today.  Saw total of 4 half eggshells which is guaranteed that there are two chicks (maybe more! haha....)

03/24/2010:  No new egg hatch today since I did not see any empty eggshells on the cage floor.  Judging from the feeding intensity of both parents, I say that there are only two chicks in the nest.  Hope I'm wrong! haha....
Sad news: In the afternoon after come back home from school, I saw one dead chick on the aviary floor.  Don't know the real reason why this one dead.
04/03/2010:  Two chicks from the first clutch emerged.  Looks like one is male and one is female.

The female chick is above.  The male chick is below.

04/06/2010: Observed that the female is starting to rebuild her nest.  Few coconut fibers, small dried bamboo leaves are carried by her to the nesting site.
04/07/2010:  Around 6:45PM, observed that the pair is mating.  Second batch of eggs is coming soon! :)
04/09/2010:  Tonight, the female sleeps inside her nest.  This means that she starts to incubate her eggs.  Wonder how many eggs she lays this time? Any number of egg is good enough for me, hehe... Expect hatching date April 20th and April 21st.
04/21/2010,: Twelve days of incubation has passed and no sign of hatching.  I'm starting to worry as this pair consistency had chicks hatched on eleventh days of incubation last year.  Wonder outside temperature (particularly lower temperature than ideal) can greatly affect the development of chick inside the egg which cause the delay hatching?
04/22/2010:   Still no hatching sign.  Chance that this pair have babies from the second clutch is pretty slim now.  The question now is what cause it?  I won't know and might not know the real reason at all until next week when I collect those unhatched eggs (if no eggs hatch) and open it out to see if whether no fertilized, chick died in the shell, or ???
04/25/2010: After 3 day out of town trip, I come back home on Sunday's afternoon and after feeding all the birds, I were surprised to see this pair kill few crickets and bring up to the nest. This is the great news as it means that there is one or more chicks inside the nest. The chick(s) must have hatched on 14th and/or 15th days. Viewing the food amount that the parents bring to the nest, I would assume that there would be at least two chicks inside. I'm a happy man after thinking there would be no chicks on the second batch from this pair few days ago.
05/04/2010: One chick (look like a male) came out of the nest today. This means that this chick must be hatched on 04/23/2010. There are few more chicks inside the nest, probably two more.
05/05/2010: Two more chicks (look like male and female) came out of the nest today. Total 3 chicks from this second clutch.
05/09/2010:  Observed the pair mate at around noon today.  The female makes a short call to signal the male and raise her tail up.  The male then almost immediately flies down to mate with her.  The whole mating process is very short with the actual mating is about a second long.
05/12/2010: The female is sleeping inside the nest today. I don't know if she slept inside the nest since yesterday or not (I didn't come out to check), so I just assume that first incubation night is today. Expect new batch of babies hatch on 05/23/2010.
05/25/2010: At least one chick hatched on 05/24/2010. The father shows some aggressive sign to chicks of previous clutch (second clutch) so I begin to catch three chicks from second clutch out. Normally, I usually leave those chicks in the aviary until about 8 or so days after the next clutch hatch to ensure that the young chicks are fully wean and learn lot of other things from their parents. I believe that when young chicks learn social interaction between their parents, they will become great parents later on.
06/04/2010:  One chick left the nest on 06/03/2010.  Three other chicks left the nest today.
06/05/2010:  To my surprise, the Fifth chick left the nest early this morning bring total of 5 chicks in this third clutch.
06/21/2010:   Forth clutch of the season.  One egg hatchs today.
06/24/2010:  Yesterday, two days after the first egg hatched, I found one chick died on the aviary floor.  Again, I don't know exact the reason why this chick dead, but I would just assume that mother nature takes her course and this chick just too weak to survive.  "Survival of the fittest".
06/27/2010:  I make a mistake today that almost kill the rest of the chicks today.  While training for two months old young male shama to learn his song,  the volume on the CD is just little too loud than normal as I forgot to turn down while playing some music on previous day.  After turn on the CD, I left the house to go to the supermarket.  When I come back about 45min later, I saw the male shama H3N1 acts very aggressive with tail flick up and down, flying from branches to branches, and sing very loud.  He also attempts to mate with the female H2N1, but unsuccessful as the female fights back.  After I realize that the breeding shama pairs can hear the song on the CD from the other side of the house, I turn off the CD but it was too late.  The female H2N1 probably just too scare from all the chasing from her mate that she did not attempt to fly up to the nest to check on her chicks despite the chicks keep calling.   The father H3N1 do feed his chicks, but once every two hours while the chicks keep calling almost nonstop.  After observe the pair for several hours, I decide to intervene and get the chicks out to hand raise them.  In this fourth clutch, the female laid 3 eggs, 1 died a day or two after hatched, and two survive until now.
Keep them warm in the incubator and feed them every half hour or so.  So far, this two chicks will have good fighting chance to survive and hope that I can be a good father to them! :))
07/05/2010: One chick died due to de-hydration.
07/11/2010: Other chick died due to some kind of disease (wet eyes)
07/14/2010:  Fifth clutch hatched.
07/23/2010: Total of three left the nest in this fifth clutch.  Looks like one male and two female.
08/09/2010:  One of the chick of the fifth clutch (female) died few days after left the nest.  Sixth clutch begins to hatch today.  This might be the last clutch of the season.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hwamei eats Cherry fruit

In previous blog as see here (Hwamei eats papaya fruit), I documented that one of the male Hwamei that I keep eats Papaya fruit.  The same Hwamei also like to eat cherry.  He can devour whole cherry in just little over half an hour.