shanlung (shanlung) wrote,

Mirror mirror on the wall // Oberon - His future // Kitties Sieben & Ivan


Mirror mirror on the wall

I was reading a recent article on the BBC, "Crows use mirrors to find food"

That New Caledonian crows
"Researchers from the University of Auckland, New Zealand, tested wild-caught crows' reactions to mirrors.
The crows did not recognise themselves but found cached food items by studying their reflections.
The results put the birds in an elite group of species - which includes primates and elephants - known to be able to process mirror information."

Shucks! Perhaps their research would be 6 years faster if they have read my reports of Yingshiong the white rumped shama.

You all know the shama are so highly territorial that no 2 male shamas could exist together. Even female shamas would be attacked unless during the breeding season.

Yingshiong even attacked the speakers when I play back recordings of other shamas as can be read here

Deepavali day Shama competition at Bedok North , Singapore

Heck! he would even burst out in song at night when the TV on Nat Geo had other birds singing away. He was that territorial. Even recordings of YS territorial songs triggered a response from him.

There was a mirror in the back of the cupboard behind the hook of the cage he loved to perch on. If he could not recognised himself in the reflection, he would be trying to fight like crazy that other birdie in the mirror. He never did that.


Here is a video of Yingshiong doing his territorial singing and display. On the hook, watching himself not as an enemy, but to improve his display. He could be doing that for an hour and longer.

In the process of flying about the apartment, he found our bedroom with a big mirror in front of the dressing table. In this case, he could get extremely close to the mirror. He recognised his own reflection and peered about the mirror at how pretty he was. If he did not know that was his own reflection, he would have attacked and attacked that reflection.

I wrote of this in January 2006
on harness and mirrors / YS accepted the loop and got his backrub

I extract the mirror portion below

I then decided to try to take some photos of YS in the bedroom against that dressing table mirror.

I was also in this French parrot group the last couple of days. ( I am also in Russian, German, Italian, Japanese, Chinese , Arabic parrot groups too. Tinkerbell Legacy had been translated into other languages and had reached out to people who do not read English. Many people around the world knew that they can live with a flighted parrot at home)

That group is

On 4th Dec 2005, I was asked if birds recognised their image in mirror and I replied that Tinkerbell did.

Then the other day when I mentioned about YS and recalling him via mirror, I thought of this topic.

You might like to see the two letters I wrote (minus the french translation)



Posté le: Jeu 26 Jan à 10:21

Hello again my French friends.

An incident with Yingshiong the other day reminded me of a conversation about mirrors here.

YS was in my bedroom and he was in front of the dressing table mirror making display at his image and singing.

I entered the room silently but he could see me in the mirror. I raised my hand to give him the recall signal. He clearly knew that was an image. He immediately turned around and flew to me instead of flying into the mirror.

My report is here.

You can read it in French if you place that URL into


Posté le: Ven 27 Jan à 4:12



Hello again my friends,

I went to the thread on mirrors and read the letters there. But if I write there, it will be a repeat of what I am writing here.

What the 'specialist' said on African greys not recognising their image in mirrors is only his opinion and not facts. He is entitled to his opinion. A grey can remain motionless on a perch. Does that mean that grey is catatonic and unable to recognise and understand the surronding?

Just because the grey showed no interest in the mirror image, that does not mean the grey do not understand.

I will give more credit to the intelligence of the Grey than to the 'specialist'.

A shama is a very fierce territorial song bird. There are three kind of singing I heard from Yingshiong.
1. Very loud territorial singing with full display such as flaring of tail feathers.
2. Quiet singing and experimenting with new vocals and rythmn which may be later made part of loud territorial singing
3. Very very quiet singing, so soft that Yinghiong was on my shoulder for me to hear that. This is sang when I feed him and when I play with him.

Yingshiong is so territorial that when he heard his own recordings, he will immediately go into loud territorial singing. Even when I spoke with a friend (David of on the handphone and his shamas were singing, Yingshiong heard that singing and burst into territorial song.

A male shama will not, and cannot tolerate another male shama without fighting.

When Yingshiong was looking in the mirror, he was singing his quiet singing with little territorial display. He did not recognise the image as a rival male. My belief is that YS knew that was his image, but that is only my opinion.

When he saw me making my hand signal for recall, he was watching me in the mirror. I tried that again yesterday. And he also immediately turned around to fly to me. The windows are closed and no air movements. I do not think he smelled me.

My opinion is that he saw me in the mirror and knew that was an image in the mirror.




So what do you think is more superior?

Calendonian crows looking for food via mirror? Or Yingshiong responding to my recall via the mirror. And no! Yingshiong did not fly to that mirror image of me. YS immediately turned around and flew to me.

I wrote of that once.

But rest assured. That happened again and again and again. YS loved to be at that mirror to admire himself. And flew to me when he saw via the mirror I was behind him, and making my recall cues to him via my hand.

You also understand my distaste on experts and specialists. Writing papers not worth the ink that they used. Like the specialist who said greys do not understand their own reflections in mirrors. Tinkerbell, and Riamfada, knew mirrors and knew their own reflections.

But who am I? Just a student still learning.

Not an expert or specialist who know everything and happy to tell you only Caledonian crows recognise mirrors.


Oberon - His future

I had to start almost from square 1 again. His bowl was first place on the table to entice him to fly down to eat nearer me. Then the bowl was placed on the chair which then got progressively moved nearer to me.

In time, he decided to to fly again to my finger to eat the mash. After a wait of ten minutes.

There had been some changes of course. I still loaded his foraging points with meal worms despite his displeasure in my moving about to load those points. I felt the encouraging of him to fly about to forage was good for him. And I liked to see him on the wobbly perches making his way down to get the meal worms.

At first I felt encouraged he went for the worms before the mash. Then I realised the wobbly perch was near him and perhaps the proximity of the worms was what made him go for the worms first.

Since he also gotten on the perch near my arm chair, I tested him with meal worms in the foraging points hanging on the perch and the mash bowl there as well. When he gotten the courage to fly there after 5 minutes, he went immediately for the mash instead of the worms so visibly crawling about in the transparent plastic cups .

I then did a final test on his preference for meal worms or mash. You recalled in early tests, I hold a bowl with mash and a bowl with worms together and he chose the mash. I placed in 6 meal worms in the mash bowl and hold it up to him.

He ate the mash first. So it was very clear he did not see the meal worms as something special to go for.

I just cannot withhold the mash from him to use that as reward for training. I cannot with hold his basic food and use hunger to force him to come to me. I could not do that and maintain the mindset that he is my equal.

How can I do that and still hold on to the mindset to treat him with dignity, respect and consideration as equal?

After 6 weeks or so, I think I have to accept that Oberon was not likely to fly to me of his own accord. I had to accept that perhaps he was not prepared to accept me as a friend and not be a companion like my other birdies.

In November last year, in that same bird shop I seen another asian fairy blue bird then. You all have seen how strikingly beautiful the bluebird was. Then a few days after I saw the bluebird, the shop had an electrical fault and caught fire. All the birds died. A most horrible death. But the death of that asian fairy bluebird struck me harder.

Then a couple months ago, I saw 2 pairs of blue bird which became 2 females and a male bluebird and that another male bluebird died.

It was a visceral reaction after knowing that already 2 bluebirds had died in that shop, not to let Oberon die and to step in and brought him back. I thought of rehabilating him and then letting him go later. Hoping that he could accept me as his companion as well. I would have loved to take photos of him flying to me as a friend.

I also do like to have a birdie companion. The way I keep bird, you all realised I could only have one at a time. Keeping Oberon meant I would not be able to have another birdie, a birdie that can accept me as a friend.

Oberon is a local bird. I believe in the time with me, he ate well and food more appropriate for him than anyone else could have provided. He also rediscovered his wings and recovered largely from his earlier trauma.

He remained very wary and fearful of me. Perhaps Asian Fairy bluebird cannot accept captivity. Perhaps it was just Oberon. Perhaps it was me.

It was clear I could not go on to next stage of clicker training as I have no treats for him. As said, I could not use food, and with holding of food as inducement to him. Oberon will then not graduate from his flight room as he will not stand willingly on my finger not to talk about flying to me on recalls. And the flight room is just not big enough for him to fly meaningfully in.

Without graduation, he will not be able to fly in the bigger space my apartment can offer to him.

I do not think I could in all fairness to Oberon and myself go on and continue to keep him with me if he is only to be in the small flight room.

I will keep him for another couple of weeks or so. Feed him to ensure he will have enough fat reserves. I know of a place where asian fairy bluebirds are seen in their natural habitat.

Oberon will be taken there and given his freedom. For better or for worse.



The irony was that one of the main reasons why I thought Oberon would not fly in the apartment was becoming a much lesser issue now. If you have a one year old Abyssinian kitty, you would know exactly what I meant. Aby is such a hyper active kitty and so athletic that I feared Sieben would get Oberon in a way worse than what happened a couple weeks ago.

Now that Sieben knew of the perks and benefits of becoming a lap cat, he so happily took that role. In the past, Sieben came only when I called. Taught to do so via clicker training. Heck! nothing more than just conditioning the clicker. And when he came, he expected a small piece of dried anchovy. And he would then jumped away after that.

Sieben now would come to me even when not called. Lay down beside me on his back and expected me as his trained serf to give him a tummy rub. And later rolled over for his back rub. And rest his chin on my thigh for his chin rub. With the periodic use of the doink doink on him down his spine. He allowed me to hold him.

Being a lap cat was so essential to being introduced into the flight room with the birdie. As then I could hold him down, to restrain him in presence of birdie. To let him know that birdie was family.

Sadly as you have read earlier, this was no longer the issue. Oberon place is in the wild and this stage for Sieben training would not take place. But should I have another bird as I probably will, it was still good to have Sieben as a lap cat.

I think that video of the doink doink used on Ivan shocked all of you. The obvious pleasure Ivan showed to the doink doink used on him must have shocked you all as well. A German from a German forum, well known and respected for her love for birdies and beasties, confessed her doggie loved that too. Tiffani of went on to say that was meridian knock therapy. A check on the Internet revealed Americans and Germans claiming to have invented that.

Strangely, Chinese had been doing that for thousands of years without having invented that. The doink doink was something I picked up from traditional Chinese massage shop. I guess plastic was a new invention as in the old times, little leather balls on end of stick, like a drum stick were used. Or one inch bundle of thin stalks were used for the beating.

Even if I wanted to be sadistic to Ivan and just tummy rub and back rub him, that was not possible. Ivan trained me very well. Ivan would pad up to me and head butt me on my chest and meowed. Tummy rubbing and back rubbing were a lot easier to do for me, and a lot more pleasing than the doink doink. Ivan would accept that too. But his jump to the ground and head butting on my ankle was a signal for the doink doink. He would do a plaintive meowing. Should I ignore that second signal, he would very slowly extend a paw out to my calf, with the claws fully extended. I could not say that he scratched me as the movement of the paw to my calf was very slow. His claws digging into my skin was the final signal.

Then the doink doink had to start.

It is hard to be a sadist to Ivan when he trained me so well.

LiBai mash making.
About 300 grams of beef mince, with 200 grams of chicken mince and 150 grams of dried anchovies(for the calcium). That was all done up to the kitty mash formula I wrote about in
Pakistan//Tinkerbell Kitty Mash//Dommie at the beach Ramadhan 2010 //Villa walkabout 2
Instead of the almond and brazil nuts, about 100 grams of human grade groundnuts(peanuts) were used.

Making of Tinkerbell Mash
Morning with Harry & the decision// Sultan of Oman Palace// Tinkerbell Mash Batch 7

suri - Read "Conditioning clicker day 3 - and some tips on suris"

milli - read "Found the perfect treat and Yingshiong first "step up""

if you forgotten about clicker training

Tinkerbell Legacy - VH parrot and Clicker Training Rant 06

Some thoughts on clicker - The initial experience with Tinkerbell

Clicker training and bonding with Tinkerbell

To Shanlung-Charlie and clicker training

Charlie and clicker training - beyond touch target //LiBai on finger and in slow motion videos —



Read Riamfada free flights in villa // And around neighbourhood for explicit details

If what I wrote help you and you like to help, give a thought
for the wildlife sharing our planet.
Do write that cheque to Gerald Durrell wildlife trust

I am a life member of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. Do join us to do
whatever we can for the wildlife that shared our planet.
or to any wildlife conservation body of your choice

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