December 6th, 2005

Yingshiong tried to cheat and why I said pitta could not fly meaningfully


I got up at 830 am, not as early as last Sunday when I woke up in the dark because my son was running the half marathon, but earlier than usual.

I was having my breakfast watching YS sitting on his door perch. I was taking his weight down, and his silence made me somewhat worried that perhaps his silence augered not only that he was unhappy. That he was so close to starving that he might keel over and die in front of me.

Then at about 850 am, he burst out into song. I then recalled that when I wrote he sang and sang on other days, I got up later , and he was already singing before I left my bed. That must have been around this time.

YS was used to my sitting around having my breakfast prior to going to be with him.

The MM was at 38.4 or 0.1 gm less than evening before. I got rid of that and filled the MM bowl with that newly made MM to 38.8 gm

YS was at 31.8 gm.

We then went through the exercises.

Interestingly enough, although his morning weight would be the lowest in the day before the weight build up again, the first training in the morning had also been the least satisfactory. That was contrary to my expectations that at the lowest weight would meant he was at the hungriest weight and therefore, the training should have be more focused and better than at other times through the day. Perhaps he just was not in the mood early in the day.

So I normally do a bit of training, to prime his system so to speak and left him. He then go into his cage to eat the MM. That was another reason why I am reluctant to take a bird weight down too much. It could be if the bird was hungry, the bird might be more focused on getting food into the stomach and less inclined to train.

I did say I was taking his weight down. But that was really more to keep his weight to within the expected range.

I then checked the pitta. He looked very alert. But today, he did not thrash the far side of the cage bars in attempt to get away from me like the last couple of days.

I decided to change the contents of the food bowl entirely. I looked into it and saw he hardly took any of the mealworms. A dead cricket was still in that bow. I could not say if he ate the other crickets. It might have been possible that the crickets recovered from the zapping and registered themselves as additional escapees in my apartment.

But he did eat something. The shit from him could not appear miraculously out from the blue and fresh air. He had to eat something, and that must have been my YS mash.

The first day or so, I mentioned that the pitta could not fly meaningfully.

In fact, when I first released him from the paper bage that he was in , that pitta surprised me that it could fly. Flew he did, up to the ceiling of the room and to the top of the cupboard. That surprised me as my friend CM told me the bird could not fly when first found.

I thought then that since it could fly, perhaps I should released that pitta immediately.

I am staying in a 5th floor apartment. I caught the pitta and let it go from the corridor leading to my apartment. The pitta then flew out of the block towards a 5 storey car park building just across my building. Thought it could gain height in the spare room, that pitta just could not gain height and I saw it flying lower and lower and disappearing into the open deck or the 4 floor car park about 70 meters away.

That was when I discovered the pitta could not fly meaningfully. I quickly took the lift down and ran across to that buidling and ran up to that 4th floor. The pitta was just standing on the floor and made no move to get away from me. He was that tired. I took him again and went back to the apartment.

That was when I told myself I needed to bring his strength up, and give him a few days for him to rediscover his wings prior to release.

I emptied his food bowl and put in fresh YS mash. I also decided to add another piece of newspaper in his cage over the old papers so I could continue to monitor his shit.

I needed to open the top of the cage to do that. When I did so, he flew up to the ceiling. His flight was much better today than when I tried to release him.

I believed he gain his strenght. From tomorrow , he would be out of his cage and given full flight of the spare room for the next few days. Its only by flying that he could fully recover his flight skills.

YS was screaming and screaming for me. I went over to see that he was more ready now for the lessons from the way he stood on the door perch and looked at me.

I started him easy with a pseudo recall. To me, I really could not consider his flight to my finger with me holding up a milli box or holding a suri on tweezer to entice him over as a full recall. Right now, it was enough that he flew and use my finger as a convenient perch to feed from, that he got use to flying to my hand/finger.

Later on, with better touch target, I would be using the target to induce him to fly to my fingers. Then I will fade the target once he got that routine fixed. Then and only then, I can say he flew to me on recall. Of course , for all recalls, he would get a treat. At a later stage, I would fade away the clicker once that recall is firmly fixed. But he would continue to get his treats.

So after he flew to me, and got his click and milli, I got him to stand on the other hand, and change again back to the other hand. I placed him on the stool with a 'step up', and he got another milli.

A few simple touch target was done.

I then hold the target above him and out of his reach and told him to tt.

He burst into a flurry of wings raising himself and feet kicking in a good show but he did not touch target. YS was trying to cheat on me. His tt was always so fast that if I did not feel from the target stick that he did hit the orange bead, it would seem to the eye that he did tt.

I refused to click. He looked at me for a few seconds. I told him he must touch target first and not just pretend to touch target. He did that again, flurry of wings and leg but did not touch target even though he looked at me with eyes that he did so. So I did not click and did not give him treat.

He got the point that I was not a sucker and could not be bluffed.

I continued to hold the target above him and this time, he flew up and I felt a touch and gave him a click and milli.

The next time was done well by him for him to get milli.

I then hold the target away from the stool for him to fly to. I got another flurry of wings before he landed back on the stool, but no touch target. So no click and no treat. That was why it was so important clicker had to be used. It signaled to him if his actions were successful or not.

I tried again, and got a touch from him, and he got his c and t.

I normally end the session with a suri and a cricket.

The next session, he tried to cheat again. I had this strong feeling that he was testing me. But he soon stopped that and played honestly with me.

At 1 pm, the MM was 38.3 against 38.8 in the morning.

YS weight was 33.6 gm

I went out for lunch and later on , tried out a new gym that I saw near my apartment. That was also partly as I did not want to be around YS.

I got back at 430pm.

His response at the training was very good.

I checked on the pitta. On that new newspaper, I was gratified to see fresh shit indicating he ate well from the YS mash.

From tomorrow, he would be left out of his cage.

At 6 pm, the MMwas 38.2 gm. I topped it up to 38.5 gm.

YS weight was 32.9 gm.


Note: Normal weight range of shama is 28 - 32 grams
from the information below .

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

or to WWF or other conservation bodies of your choice

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