Jeffrey Low

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Sometimes, I am not quite sure if the female shama is merely a passive party awaiting to be wooed during the courtship. Lorraine was observed yesterday to be repeatedly taking off from the perch and making quick u-turns in mid-air to return back to the perch. This type of flight in the presence of a male, I would think, signals the female's readiness to breed, although so far I have not seen any males reacting to it.

The following is David's point of view, extracted from an email I received from him:

"The female shama in top breeding condition tends to exhibit a distinctive flight pattern that is quite different from her normal flight. Usually, in the confines of an aviary, the shama (male or female) will fly from perch to perch and from floor to perch. In other words, there is purpose in the flight - to travel from place to place. However, the female that is really ready to mate, when in the company of the male, frequently flies from her perch in a quick but seemingly fluttering flight that takes an elliptical loop and returns her to about the same place on the perch without her first landing anywhere else. She may do this again and again. Her action seems reflexive and pointless as, all the while, the male appears unconcerned with her antics. The lack of reaction from the male suggests that such flights are not part of a courtship display or intended to stimulate the male's sexual interest. I am not sure of the function of such flights in the mating process and only wish to observe at this time that the ready female will tend to have such flight patterns. "

(Perhaps, if Lorraine could learn to sashay like the sexy lady passing by DDS , she too would succced in arousing Nim).

Lorraine was very busy throughout this morning building the nest from the nesting materials provided. I hope Nim is up to it.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Lorraine showed signs of readiness and was introduced to Nim. I had taken the necessary precautions to prevent serious injuries to Lorraine and to minimise stress to the pair should they need to be separated quickly.

During the initial 20 minutes or so, Nim went at her fiercely but stop short of pecking at her whenever she was cornered. Lorraine is a very matured and aggresive bird herself and in her stage of readiness, she soon began to relax. This also causes Nim to relax slightly. An hour later, she was relax enough to start eating and will stand her ground whenever Nim advances aggresively. In about 2 hours time, they were observed to be taking turns to bath at the bath tray provided. The introduction was successful.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


It is expected that when a female white-rumped shama is introduced to a male who is not ready to breed, he may attack her violently. I would very much want to share a very unpleasant experience that I had sometime ago, when a female was introduced to an unready male. On that occasion, the male did not attack the female violently but had just did enough to prevent her from having access to the food and water. I had not realised this in time, thinking that all is well. Since there appeared to be no indication that the female will come to any serious physical harm, I had left the pair together. As a result of this carelessness in observing the pair during the introduction, the female died 3 days later, not from physical injuries but from starvation. Sometimes it is hard to forget a mistake, no matter how many ways I looked at it afterwards. Perhaps, by sharing this mistake, I will have to bear with the disgusts of the more experienced but I hope that it could also be of some use to others who are less experienced.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


So far, the pair of white-rumped shamas Nim and Lorraine seems to be far from being ready to be introduced to one another. I have already started the pre-breeding conditioning. They are given lots of livefood daily. Twice a week, they are supplemented with multi-vitamins and minerals and on all the other days, vitamin B-complex. In addition, they will be given vitamin E once a week. The feeder insects are also gut-loaded with food rich in calcium before feeding to the birds. Hopefully, all these will bring them into breeding condition soon and also give them a better chance to succeed.

There is a reason for Nim to be out of condition at this time of the year, when he should be in good form and breeding condition. Not long after his recent 2nd molt, Nim was hand-caught from his cage to cut the overgrown toe nails. As he is not used to being handled this way, he seems to be quite affected by the stress. At about the same time, I had also switched him from my home made dry food to commercial pellets. This change of diet although done gradually, must have further stressed him. As a result, Nim went through a partial (stress) molt. Only the tail feathers were shed and he had just completed growing them. Luckily, all seems to be well now and his form is gradually returning.

Monday, March 22, 2010


This indoor breeding cage was constructed with the help of my friend Osbert, another shama hobbyist.

There are 4 doors. The small door at the extreme right upper half of the cage is to enable easy access to the nest-box. Another small door at the lower half of the cage is for easy movements of the feeder boxes in and out of the cage. The largest door at the bottom is to allow for a bamboo cage to be placed inside whenever it is necessary. An additional large door at the top half was constructed so that when the birds are removed and all the doors are opened up, every part of the inside can be reached for cleaning or for disinfecting purposes.

The roof and 3 sides of the cage were covered with light plywood over the wire mesh, leaving only the front open to provide for a better sense of security for the breeding pair. The height of the cage is only 4 feet from cage-floor to roof and about 3 feet from floor to nest-box. This low height from floor to nest-box is to minimise injuries to newly fledged chicks. Later on, additional perches will be added to some areas below the nest-box to further minimise injuries to falling fledglings.

This nest-box was given to me by David DS. (If the breeding is not successful, I could always put the blame on the ugly nest-box).

This plastic guppy tank measuring approx. 13" long and 8" tall is ideal for using as a feeder box. A variety of insects such as crickets, mealworms and 'pineapple beetles' can be placed inside. It is tall enough to prevent the crickets from jumping out. Some birds may need a little encouragement initially to enter the box but in no time, they will be jumping in and out of it with ease.

This plastic turtle tank is just right for feeder froglets. The cover was cut leaving a narrow strip around the edge, overhanging the opening to prevent the froglets from climbing out.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


This is Lorraine. She will be introduced to Nim when the time is ripe.

Lorraine possesses a good neck and was observed to be very willing to flick her 8 inches tail quite high. I would think that it may not be easy to breed from her but with the encouragements from David DS, who is also her breeder, I look forward to the challenges in the coming months, with the hope to be successful in this pairing and to producing offsprings of decent quality.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I spent the last couple of days preparing a breeding cage for Nim. Nim is almost 2 years old and among the shamas that I have kept during the last few years, he is my favorite in terms of physical structure, posture and songs. He has no glaring faults and is overall quite a stylish bird when in form. However, he is slightly lacking in one aspect during display. Although he has an aggresive style of display that comes with multiple tail flicks, Nim do not flick his tail feathers high enough for my liking. This could be partly due to his 11.7 inches long tail feathers being too broad. I would have to keep this in mind when selecting for a suitable female. She would also have to be equally sound in her overall physical structure.

It is always easier said then done. Still, I would hope to be able to produce offsprings from him that are equally good in physical structure and better in tail-play.