October 22nd, 2005

Shamaism - Contact with YS made and meeting with Chief Guru David

Ivan did not get to wake me up this morning. My wife back from her
business trip to Beijing woke me up instead. She brought me a wonderful
present. It was kind of strange when we were in Taiwan and spend a year
trying to track down that Great Northern White bean before my wife came
to Singapore for a holiday and found and bought the GNW beans here for me
in Taiwan. Now I am in Singapore and could not find the GNW beans here
and my wife found that GNW in Beijing. She bought two packets of GNW beans
as a gift, a much cherished gift. That meant I can proceed to prepare
the mash and combined that with cat dry food in the formula for starlings
which are insectivores.

Another reason for getting a good basic diet is that will make it easier for
my wife to take care of YS if I am not around for a few days.

So I went out with my breakfast to see how YS is getting on after spending the night in the flight room.

I fixed back the bowl of dry food and had my breakfast looking at him. Then I wondered did he ever go back into the open cage at all where his drink was. He did not go into the cage for his dry food either. The 2 crickets I zapped
yesterday were still alive and moving their legs, paralysed and not able to
climb up from the small cricket bowl.

I told YS that I like to give him water. I detached the bowl and hold it up to
him. He looked at me, then dipped his head and had a drink and looked at me

Checking the mealworms, I picked up some of the newly moulted white worms. I
went back to YS perched on the rope perch about my head level at the top corner
and hold up a worm with my fingers. He had another look at me and turned his
attention to the worm and picked it from my fingers.

Perhaps he was just hungry. The first few days when he was in his cage, he
refused to eat from my chopsticks. He even refused to come to the bowl until
I got back to the armchair after I dropped in that cricket.

Now he took from my outstretched arm and fingers.

I do feel that as he has the option to fly away from me, he gained in
confidence to the point that I can approach so close to him.

Periodically I walked up to him and gave him the mealworm. That was ok to me.
We are still in the getting-to-know-you stage. And at least, he allowed me
to approach him without taking fear and flying off.

I then decide to add more bowls for water and dry food in the flight room outside
his cage. So I prepared two clamps on the perch next to my chair. I want
him to drink and eat from there, conveniently next to the armchair as
well as the from the drink bowl in the cage.

I had to leave as I will be meeting with David to have a look at his
shamas and to meet him after all these days of SMSing and chatting over the
phone. And in his house were the three of us, myself, David and his shama breeder friend R, and all his shamas.

I have seen his name, and his website http://www.shama.com.sg/index.html months before often mentioned when people talk seriously of shama.

To listen to David and R talked about the quality of shamas, the length and
the shape of the tails, the profile of the head, neck and body, the songs
that they be judged for, was a flood of information difficult for me
to digest.

David long went past the goal of breeding and raising shamas. He is so focused
on breeding and getting that 'perfect' shama even more intently than an orchid
grower wanting that perfect orchid. He set his goal high.

His webpage did not do justice and gave only a shadow of what he had in his
house. When we went in, there was this incredibly beautiful shama in an
aviary in his hall with long and beautifully proportioned tail. My jaw dropped
when he told me that shama is 4 1/2 month old.

Then we went to have a look at the aviaries behind his house with adult shamas
that were painfully beautiful even though they were moulting. I tried my
best to take photos to give you folks an idea. It is unfortunate that my
photos will not do justice to what he have done and I will not be showing them.

Most of the photos you seen of me and Tinkerbell were taken by my wife. I
doubt if she could do justice either.

I noted inside the big aviaries housing individual shama, at the bottom were
trays with crickets, frogs, meal worms and pineapple beetles. While my goal
is different from his, one thing we do have in common is that we love shamas
(not necessary just our own) and we want the best for them in food and in care.

He stressed that he gave live food after 4 pm to ensure that the dry food is
first eaten. I was thinking in my mind that David had to give live food
in addtion to dry food to try his best to give a complete balanced diet , and therefore, the best prepared food is still not adequate enough to a man who
love his shamas. I was thinking how to incorporate what I seen and learn
in this visit into the diet I want to prepare.

David, as if he read my mind, added that the diet I want to prepare must not
be too mushy and wet or the shama will starve rather than to eat it. That
was extremely interesting to me and I made mental changes to the formulation
of the diet.

As we left the house, he gave me a generous gift of a batch of his 'pineapple

I now have three types of life food now available to me, the crickets, meal
worms and now the 'pineapple beetles'. And that GNW beans finally with me.

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