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Thursday, January 28, 2010

2010 Breeding Season is about to begin

In just few short weeks, most if not all shama thrush keepers in the State is about to enter 2010 breeding season.  With the cold and big rain/storm arrived to California for the last 2 weeks, hopefully there will be no such weather condition in upcoming months.  If weather is co-operate and no big rain/storm coming in near future, I do plan to introduce the first pair (H3N1 and H2N1) at the last week of Feb. (just like last year).  If by that time the weather is still too cold and forecast is expecting to have rain/storm coming, then this process will be delay until the rain/storm over.
A month later, I will plan to introduce the second pair (H1N1 and H4N1).  The reason I choose a month later to introduce a second pair is in case if any of those two pairs for some reason decide to not incubate or raising young during the breeding season, it has a better chance that both females will lay eggs at around the same time (based on last year breeding, almost exact one month is the total time for the female starts to lay eggs, incubate, raise young, and start to lay eggs again) and I can use other female as segregate mother for the abandon eggs/chicks.  Of course, no one want this to happen, but everyone should be prepare for the worst case scenario and hope for the best :)
I also plan to do some trial test with introduce a 3rd pair which both of the birds are under one year old of age.  I want to see how young the shama can successfully breeding if they are feed with proper nutrients.  Proper nutrients is meaning that I feed them with varieties of live food, good commercial dry food, and full spectrum of vitamins and minerals.  I did not force feed them like farm animals, hehe  I can't force feed them even if I want to.... lol.
I also hope that the pair of Hwamei will produce babies this year.  This year will be officially the first year I try to breed Hwamei and will see that the pair is proven to still be able to breed or not as I have no idea how old they are.  As you remember last year when I acquired the pair, it was too late in the breeding season and both birds are not in a condition to breed.  I got few eggs last year that laid on the floor with very soft shell.  Hopefully this year will be much better result.
Will try update everyone regularly the progress during breeding season.  Until then, happy bird keeping and good luck to everyone who plan to breed any bird this year!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Article about making breeding simple for Canary by Linda Hogan, but I think we can apply to Shama Thrushes as well

The following are couple articles from Linda Hogan who specialize in breeding Canary.  Her blog can be view by click the following link:
In her articles, she talk on how to condition the canary into breeding cycle and how to breed canary indoor.  I found this article is very informative and could apply to white-rumped shama breeding as well.  There is very interesting information about vitamin E and the different time used for male canary and female canary.  Without further introduction, here are what Linda wrote on her blog:

Making Breeding Simple - Part 1 Lengthening Days

This inexpensive floor light was purchased at Target and has the advantage of distributing light to various levels of cages even in a large aviary. With a small watt energy efficient bulb it provides a dim light warning for 30 minutes after the overhead lights go out so that any hens that were caught off the nest when the bright overhead lights went out can see to go back to their nests.

Back To The Basics

Although there are many options for working with our birds and supporting breeding behavior, the endless number of choices can be overwhelming. With this series, I will focus on the minimum requirements to meet our birds needs rather than all the endless options.

Day Lengthening - Natural Method: Adequate day length is necessary for hormonal changes that bring on breeding behavior. While small sized varieties may breed when day length is a minimum of 12 hours, better results are achieved when the day length is 14 to 15 hours. The simplest way to control lighting is to let the birds get up with the sun and go to bed with the sun. Using the natural lighting pattern, days lengthen gradually, about 15 minutes longer each week. This means the birds will likely start breeding naturally in April and continue through May, possibly into June.

Abrupt Day Lengthening - Critical Timing: If you elect to breed earlier, the easiest way is to use an automatic timer and suddenly change the day length to 14 1/2 hours three weeks before the desired breeding date. Timing the abrupt day lengthening, requires some preparatory dietary changes to get the birds ready. Cocks require about six weeks, while hens require only about three weeks of conditioning to get ready for breeding. (That is in addition to calcium which should be fed to hens year round or at a very minimum three months prior to breeding.) Using this simple sudden lighting change method, the timer is changed only once, before nesting begins. It is critical not to make abrupt day lengthening once a hen starts setting, any abrupt day lengthening then may result in her re-cycling and abandoning her eggs and nest.

More Gradual Day Lengthening - Faster Than Natural Day Lengthening: Some breeders prefer to gradually change their automatic timers every few days or weekly by 30 minutes. It will brings the birds in earlier than natural lighting but has a disadvantage besides much more effort, the gradual method produces less sperm production than the abrupt method.

Making Sure The Hen Is On The Nest Overnight: Rather than have the lights go off suddenly and catching some hens off their nest, it is good to have a 30 minute dim light time so that when the lights finally go off, the hens will be setting on their nests. The simplest way to do this is to set your lights coming on very early and going off about 30 minutes before natural sunset. Remember once chicks hatch you need to be in the bird room offering fresh foods when the light comes on. But do you really want to get up really early every day, especially before daylight savings time takes effect?

Using a Dimmer Light: I prefer to use a dimmer light which comes on the last 30 minutes with the regular lights and continues alone for an additional 30 minutes. As the season progresses natural day length will exceed this time but I just keep this pattern even when natural day length exceeds it. This is not a breeding problem. Lengthening days does not brings on the molt, shortening day length initiates molting.

My Simple Way Summary: I breed a variety of kinds of canaries including Borders which do much better with longer days, I abruptly change lighting to 14 1/2 plus the additional 30 minute dimmer extension. This is done after cocks have received the ABBA vitamin E for three weeks and coincides with when the hen starts the ABBA vitamin E.

Making Breeding Simple - Part 2A Conditioning

Three factors: light, conditioning, and weather working in concert bring birds into full breeding condition. In part 1 of this series, we looked at simple ways to control the number of hours of daylight and how to lengthen the days to brings about hormonal changes that moves the bird into its natural breeding cycle. In part 2, I will begin looking at some minimal techniques to help bring birds into breeding condition. First, let's take a look at vitamin E.

Vitamin E - An Easy Way To Condition Canaries For Breeding

In addition to the previously identified hens need for minerals and especially calcium, better breeding results are achieved when the cock and hen receive high doses of the fertility vitamin E, during the conditioning period prior to pairing. Traditional this was done by adding fortified wheat germ oil to the seed. But the amount to give and when to give it was quite a guessing game!

A few years ago, I discovered an easier more effective product, ABBA high fertility water soluble vitamin E. One day a week six weeks before pairing, I prepare the ABBA vitamin E as directed by measuring 1/2 teaspoon of the powder and dissolving it in 1/2 gallon water. I then fill the cocks drinkers and leave that as the only source of water for 24 hours. After 24 hours, the drinkers are dumped and refilled with clean water.

After three weeks of the ABBA vitamin E once weekly treatment, the cocks will be singing vigorously and showing some signs of wanting to breed. Now is the time to abruptly lengthen the hours of day light as described in the previous post. And on the same day, I start the hens on the one day a week, 24 hour treatment with the ABBA vitamin E. This continues for the cock until I am finished breeding him but must be stopped on the hen when she lays her first egg to avoid premature hen recycling.

Many breeders do not realize the importance of controlling when and how much the hen gets of the vitamin E. If a hen is overdosed with vitamin E, she abandons the nest without going through the normal process of sitting, hatching and feeding her chicks .

In the unlikely event that a hen fails to recycle for her second clutch, she can, however, again receive the weekly vitamin E treatment.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Build your own supply of live insect to feed insectivore birds

  DT is one of my close friend who is also my bird keeping mentor (especially white-rumped shama) send me few pics of his setup of breeding his own live insects to feed his shama.  As you can see in those pics below, he breeds mealworms, crickets, two type of cockroaches (B. lateralis and B. dubia) and very successful with them.  He said that he haven't bought any live insects from the store ever since he starts those breeding colony.  I also breed B. lateralis as well as few other friends and one thing that we all agree to success in raising your own live insects is heat.  Keeping those insects warm is one of the most important thing if you want to have constant supply of live insects to feed the birds.  As what to feed them, regular dog, cat food is cheap, good nutrients, and easy to buy at any pets shop.  Shallow water dish, water gel can be use to keep them hydrate.  Depends on how many birds you keep, have several containers of one kind of insect in several stage of life development is necessary to keep enough supply of insect to feed the bird at all time.  I still have a colony of few thousands of B. lateralis that I original bought 6,000 of them back in June 09 and I feed all the birds with those insects almost everyday in addition of bought crickets from the store.  Those roaches breed very well if keep them warm.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shama from Indonesia

William from Indonesia wants to share few pics of his bird.  The two that he currently has is a very young one.  One of them is beginning of his first molt, while the other is less than 2 years old.  According to William, both of the young shama come from a good line of parent, and hope they will be great in the future.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

New serama pullet

I just got the serama pullet today so she can be the companion with my current rooster serama.  She is quite small and only approx. 3 months old.  It would take at least another 3 months for her to fully develop and ready to lay eggs.  She is little stress from the picture below but she has her form and nice broad tail.  Would be really interesting to see her development in the next few months.

Here she is:

 Introduce her to the rooster:  looks how small she is!  She might be fall into upper class A or low B.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Update pics of white crowned robin chat

After a month of keeping them, they are doing great so far.  Eating crickets, rusty reds (Blatta lateralis), mealworms, super mealworms, and dried food that prepared for shama.  The male is still shy and won't come down to eat until I move far away, while the female comes down to eat while I stand few feet away from the aviary.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Lizard Canary

I bought a pair of Lizard Canary past summer because I like the color of the birds especially a patch of nice orange color on top of the head.  I kept them in small wire cage with the hope maybe they will breed this upcoming Spring; however, around last month, I discover that the female starts to sing and has nice song similar to a male!  I'm thinking the female is actually the male but I'm not 100% sure.  I might have to bring "her" for someone expert in canary to check out for sure.  Anyone want the extra male lizard canary? hehe....

Here is the clip of the male singing:

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Birds have a good bath today!

What a beautiful day today with lots of sunny and warm weather of 75F, so I take out the camcorder and record the bathing process of the birds.

Here is the male and female white-rumped shama taking a bath:

Here is the Hwamei taking a bath:

Friday, January 1, 2010

Breeding wax worm: Another live food for white-rumped shama and other insectivore birds

Recently, one of my friend says that he is thinking of breeding wax worm to feed his birds instead of buying from the shop.  I also get interest in this topic as I currently breed Rusty Reds (Blatta lateralis) to feed all of my birds.  I might try breeding them just to see how easy/hard it is and see if breeding wax worm is worth the time/cost instead of buy from store or order online.  Few friends of mine also have great success breeding cricket, mealworms, and rusty reds.  From what I research on the internet, breeding wax worm is not hard but what I concern is the cost of making the food for those wax worm larvae.  Breeding your own food source for the birds is definitely cheaper than buying from the store or order online, but sometimes, it is not worth it as cost, time, and labor might exceed the cost of just buying it.  Wax worm is a great addition food source for shama and other insectivore birds.  It is great to condition or fatten up the bird after sickness or stress as wax worm has very high fat contents (20%).  As far as I see, all insectivore birds love wax worm and it is very easy to cause the bird to become fat and obesity if one does not control how much wax worm to feed to the bird.  I would not advice to feed the bird exclusive wax worm for a long period of time.  Even every bird loves wax worm and it has lots of fat content and decent protein level (16%), wax worm lacks other vitamins, calcium, and many amino acids necessary to become a sole live food source for bird.  Again, variety of diets is the key to keep the bird healthy and happy.  Healthy and happy (stress free) bird will have great chance of breeding and gives healthy babies.

Link to how to breed wax worm:

Wax worm breeder kits: