October 19th, 2005

shamaism - first flight in flight room

Shortly after I posted yesterday's blog, I did a search of cricket diet.

I got into http://www.amphibiancare.com/frogs/articles/crickets.html
There are even more links at the end of the page to look after crickets. To take care of one shama well, it make sense to look after the food the shama need very well too. Its clear enough that what the shop keeper told me that I just chuck some stale bread and vege will not be enough if you like succulent crickets for your bird. Crickets needed protein such as in cat food as well.

Since I have Ivan, it was easy enough to get a handful of cat pellets that I threw into the cricket cage as soon as I finished reading those articles.

The next morning, I was up early. My wife had to take a morning flight for some business in Beijing. I was tempted to wake up Ivan this time but he was sleeping where he could not be found.

I prepared the dry food for YS. Then remembering yesterday evening when he did not want the thawed crickets, I defrosted 3 this time. Had my breakfast in flight room after placing the bowls in. Then I gave a thawed cricket. Since this is the first in the morning, YS should take it. He took it from the bowl and dropped it showing no interest. The same result for the other two thawed crickets.

I now have to consider that perhaps despite the freezing, the crickets may not be that good now. Perhaps the taking out of the tupperware box to remove 2-3 crickets may have affected those in that box. Perhaps I should I moved some into a smaller box instead of taking the main box out.

I checked the crickets and saw the cat food I threw in the night before were being clearly eaten, with crickets looking fatter. I zapped one and YS happily ate that. Zapped and fed him two more within the hour.

Sun Tzu in his Art of War stated ' Know your enemy, know yourself, a hundred battles, a hundred victory'.

To see how tough it will be for me ahead, I felt it was half lost as I do not know myself. How many of you know yourself anyway.

It that is a parrot, any parrot even an old parrot, what I want to do will not be difficult at all.

Parrots are group creatures, they live in flocks and they interact with each other doing grooming and like companionship.

Shama is a shy solitary bird. From all I read, the shama do not even like the female unless in breeding season. Shama do not like each other. Male shama will fight with other male shamas. Shama is a loner unlike parrot.

Parrots eat lots of stuff. So withholding a favourite to be used as treats will not hurt the health of parrot since their basic diet is already very complete.

As the shama body is so small, food management on them may endanger their health. That goes against my basic philosophy. Regardless of what I want to do or try, their health and well being must be primarily taken care of. That is why I am so desperate to develope a good basic diet that is always available to maintain their health so I can use the food that they really do like as treats. With a good basic diet, withholding of treats thus will not risk their health as then, the shama will get what they need from the basic diet.

It is also a philosophical question if strong food management be applied. I did not apply strong food management to Tinkerbell and relied more on reading of her moods. I do not think I want to apply strong food management at all even if that supposed to help training so much. It can be so easy to compensate for poor training by withholding food from the bird. I rather the relationship be between equals. Having the power over them, I rather not want to use that kind of power.

I want YS to be more hungry so food is a higher motivation. Since I do not wish to give him less, I can make him want more food. For him to want more food, he need to burn up more energy.

So this morning, I left the cage door open. He took 15 minutes to decide, hopping down to look at me from the cage door and going back to his perch.

Then he flew out. I deliberately wanted a small flight area at the beginning. The small area meant he cannot get the momentum to hurt himself when he tried to get through the glass sliding door. He soon learned what is glass door. He was living in an aviary before, so he could fly a bit. But he was not steady at the flight in the morning. My flight area was not fully prepared yet with no perches.

I originally wanted him to be in the cage for two weeks first and I thought I still have plenty of time to do the perch. So this morning was just a short trial for him and for me.

I have my book, and my drinks and I just sat and watch him explore the flight room. In an hour , he went back into his cage. I closed the cage door, zapped a cricket, and he took it hungrily.

I went out to get more stuff to do the perches in flight room and to get ready for mealworms that I be getting and to get vege and carrots for the crickets.

I removed all the stale bread from the crickets and place some lettuce and cut up carrots for them with a handful of cat food.

For the perch, I had short pieces of wood that I put wire around to stick to the ceiling with silicone cement. That was the way I did for Tinkerbell in Taiwan which worked well, and easily removed when I left the apartment. YS is a lot lighter than Tinkebell. I had to let the silicone cement set before I can hang the perches in the room.

After a while, I let YS out of the cage again. YS flight control was much better in the afternoon. He was flying about. At first he stayed on the corner of the balcony window furthest from me.

I felt sorry that no perches were up for him and he had to cling on the high density polyutherene mesh tied to the balcony front. When he flew, I love the way his tail flared open, with the white tail feathers scalloping out on either side of the black central tail feathers. At times, he was hovering like a humming bird, moving forward, moving sideways and backwards, before he broke off the hovering and went into flight mode.

He then rested a bit nearer me, but still on the window mesh. He was exploring the room and resting nearer and nearer me.

I was happy to see him burning up energy, and hopefully getting hungrier, and hopefully , wanting more food.

It was getting dark. I zapped a cricket and placed it in the cricket bowl in the cage hoping that will get him back in and I can shut that door.

I needed him inside for his safety. His water bowl and stuff were all inside too.

It was easy this morning as he went back inside himself. He did not go in. I was very troubled to have to catch him and damaged severely the trust I taken so much pain to build with him.

I originally do not intend to let him fly until at least he will come to my hand willingly on cue first.

I will try one more flight tomorrow as the perches will all be fixed up then.

If I cannot get him willingly back into the cage, I then must revert to my original plan, maybe even setback a bit by this premature flight I tried.

I like him to fly so he burn up more energy to want to eat more that I can then turn to formal clicker training to bond better.

But if I allow him to fly without discipline, and have to traumatise him by catching him to force into cage, that will undermine the trust I want to develope with him.

The only one who can guide me is so far away in Tsaoling. And since I could not understand him before in the past, it is likely I will not understand him even if I shock him with a phone call now.

Let see what the next day will be like.

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