December 21st, 2005

Yingshiong on my shoulder and concept of zero


I got up earlier today. So I got to listen to YS singing loudly to intimidate the local birds and koels while having my coffee and breakfast while watching the news on TV. Those news were BBC or CNN by the way. I never bothered to tune into the local news channel at all during the time since I came into Singapore again.

Then the getting ready so that YS could get into the apartment. That included shutting Ivan in one of the spare rooms.

Patitamofi, thank you for your nice comment. At least I do not feel like I am writing in the wilderness and this lonely road get that less lonely. The experience with Tinkerbell and her bullying of HT was amusing in the beginning. But later when I realised Tinkerbell lost all fear of cats, thinking cats were like Halftail the Bimbo, that got me so paranoid of cats that could get near enough to HT. I had nightmares every time I lost sight of Tinkerbell.

If YS managed to completely graduate to outside flight, I would not wish YS to view other cats are non threatening should I managed to train Ivan not to touch YS. That fear of cat YS demonstrated to me a few days ago was so reassuring that I wanted to maintain that as protective mechanism for YS.

And if I am wrong about being able to control Ivan, well, I have seen Ivan leaping up to take down sparrow/pigeon on the wing when we were living in Hongkong. So Ivan would remain locked up when the glass sliding door is opened and YS is in the apartment.

But just before I opened the sliding door to join YS, Ivan was screaming his head off. So I had to go and checked Ivan again. I guessed Ivan knew enough from the last few days that if he was locked, he would remain locked for a couple of hours. Which in that case and as he did not like that room, he called to be moved to another spare room that he found more to his liking. That other spare room was a clean laundry sorting room that he had great pleasure in sleeping in so he could spitefully shed his hairs on the clean laundry.

It was only at 915am that I opened that door and got in to weigh the MM at 38.5 or drop of 0.2 gm. YS was at 33.0 gm. Immediately after he got that milli from me for his reward of being weighed, YS flew off into the apartment. He did his couple of circuits of the room. He perched back on the fan. Then he explored the area around the table fan. I called his name to be ignored utterly by him. Then he flew up to the ceiling light and practised to be a statue of a shama, just remaining very still and not moving. Not much point of even calling his name when he was in that kind of mood. I had better things to do such as to get more coffee and watch the news on TV.

In time, he landed on the table fan. He looked at me expectantly. I had the treats and clicker ready by me on the sofa. He did his pure recalls and step ups so perfectly from that fan.

After another outstanding performance as a shama statue on the ceiling lights, he dropped off the fan and flew past me at eye level to get back to the flight room landing on his door perch. He fixed his eyes on me and went chair chair chair going into his display mode of twitching his tail and flashing his wings at me. I had to go back in the flight room. I ran out of millis and needed to harvest more from the holding box into his feeding box, YS knew all those signs. When I was done, just the holding out of my left hand and a call of his name was enough. He would not even wait for the 'come here' .

But there was one action I needed so much from YS that I would be working on. His voilational flight to me, a flight to me made by him without any calls or signals from me. A flight to me, that he land on me, made on his own whims in addition to the recalls that we have been doing.

Then when we were doing the step up exercises , he was doing step up to my thighs, and on to my stomach and body in my way of accustoming him to get use to being physically on me. But when I moved my hand to the shoulder, he would fly off to the door perch.

Then it hit me how I could get him to be on the shoulder. That small round milli box would have about 12-15 millis inside.

I got him to step up on my left wrist. I hold the milli box to him so he could get a milli. I then moved the milli box a couple of inches up my forearm. He hopped up and got a milli. Then I inched the milli box on to the elbow, and then to my biceps. Every time he had a milli, I shifted the box higher. He then was on my shoulder. The box was then placed under my chin so he needed to snuggle up to my neck to get the milli.

I hold the milli box and he ate and ate.

Recently Alex the CAG got into news with what was claimed that he understood the concept of zero.

Wow! I do like Alex, but the way those researchers went ape that Alex knew zero was so funny to me like they never realised that probably even amoeba might know the concept of zero.

In any case, YS demonstrated very clearly he also understood the concept of zero when he was digging in the milli box when perched on my shoulder. When he ate all the millis, he knew there were zero millis left. Instead of pecking forlornly into an empty box, he flew off my shoulder to the door perch.

He would wait for me to move that milli box from its state of zero to its dozen of millis before he responded to my recall, and that hopping up routine to my shoulder. He then demonstrated he understood zero when he flew off after he emptied that box. He showed that 4 times this morning.

So folks, Alex is not the only bird that knew zero. YS knew too. If you check your birds, I am sure they all knew zero. Do they peck and peck in an empty bowl not realising the bowl is empty?

I am sure even amoeba knows too. If it ran out of food in its vicinity, the amoeba will ooze on to another spot when it can find food.

I know I got YS to my shoulder with subtefuge, or unscrupulous bribing. The main thing to me was that I broke that ice with YS and getting onto my shoulder was nice for him, is nice for him, and will be nice for him.

Now , hopefully, I would get him to fly to the shoulder, and even better still, for him to fly there on his own accord. That is a must-do, and one of the many essential steps before he finally graduate to the outdoor.

At 1 pm, the MM was weighed to be 38.5 gm, same as morning. YS was at 35.2 from the millis and suris and crickets indicating to him how rewarding it was for him to play with me, and how much fun that was too. The MM was thrown away and fresh MM at 39.4 gm was given.

YS was then closed up in his flight room so that Ivan could be liberated again. That ungrateful cat gave me a bored look and refused to leave the pile of T shirts until he could shed more hairs on them. I went for lunch.

When I came back, I shut the door on Ivan still on the pile of clean but hairy t shirts. The glass door was opened for YS. He flew into the apartment very briefly before going back into his flight room and back into his cage. He liked to spend afternoon in his cage where he would be singing softely experimenting with new vocalisations.

Now and then, we would go through the exercises until when he demonstrated to me he understood the concept of zero. If only Alex is the only bird that understood, then I need to do so much less work in getting millis or even suris. All I need to do would be to hold the empty box and let YS peck away in the emtpy box without having to load that with millis.

At 615pm, the MM was at 39.1 gm. YS was at 34.8 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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