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Tinkerbell Legacy - Living with a flying parrot

In defence of chicken feed // LiBai // Shama singing competition at Bishan

After my last report where I wrote derogatory remarks of chicken feed, my friend ChiuSan, a very highly regarded aviculturist and avid bird watcher in Singapore, wrote an irate note to me in defense of chicken feed after he read my last report. I do have his permission to reproduce his email below to give a more balanced view.


Don't knock the quality of chicken feed.

Please remember that the poultry industry is a multi-million dollar business - and probably more well-researched than individual species of aviary birds.

Also, with strict timetables to adhere to (what if your turkey or chicken does not grow up/lay/etc in time for Thanksgiving/Christmas/Chunjie?) the end-result of the food must be very predictable.

Vets I know, zoos, and myself, use chicken feed at appropriate times.

Trouble in Singapore is that chicken feed is a cheap product, and the food handling chain is not well managed. The bird shops just dump a bag in a corner, sell a bit at a time, and let it go stale.

Remember that chicken food has a short shelf life, and has to be stored appropriately.

The problems that many bird keepers have with chicken food is not the food itself, but the fact that what we buy is already deteriorated.

The next issue is that chickens, which are actually a form of pheasant, are omnivorous. There is often a high animal protein content in chicken feed. So it is OK for leafbirds.

Last issue is that many captive birds suffer from kidney problems and die young because of the diet being too dry. In nature, there is a lot of moisture in all the things that birds eat. In the case of broiler chickens, as you say, this is not a problem because they get cooked at 8 weeks. But laying hens have been known to live 10 years - on a diet of chicken feed. Some people moisten the feed.

I do not do so because I used the chicken food as a supplement. It is what I raise my mealworms and crickets in, and the birds eat it indirectly.

My reply to him


Good idea you give me on the using of chicken feed for meal worms and cricket!
I will adopt that.

I never thought of chicken as omnivore. But in thinking where they came from, the jungle fowl in prehistoric past, I have to agree with you. But still, chicken has gizzard and the ability to grind raw grain via grit and digest that.

That you tell me chicken feed has a short shelf life raise that highly in my respect. I am so wary of commercial pet food with long shelf life that come about from all kinds of ickky additives. What you are saying is that chicken feed has none or little ickky additves and short shelf life. I cannot blame the distribution chain and petshops for the final end product as they might not know how to store them and might not care that much.

Can I have your ok to reproduce your letter into my blog so a better balance be given on chicken feed?


With all that said, I doubt any commercial bird or chicken feed can approach Tinkerbell Mash in terms of nutritious balanced food for birdie. You see the process that I use and you decide for yourself if your birdie deserved the best food instead of just good food.

See below if you have not seen it, or refresh your memory and consider switching over to mash instead of pellets

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


LiBai weight control & ghastly pink camera

In the last report, I decided on 6 of Libai mash + 6 of fruit mash as the standard daily norm to keep him at his weight.
You know that on top of that, he got fed about 2 crickets and about 20 medium size meal worms as his treats in playing with me. I never consider recalls and clicker training to be training. That is really more playing with me rather than marine sergeant type training.

On top of that, he also will get about 10 meal worms scattered about on floor and on wobbly perch by the cage as part of his foraging about. Partly to give him fun, and partly to prepare him in case I got a call to go and Libai go to the wild and hopefully not just live, but find a girlfriend up in the trees. In my discussions with Chiusan, he delighted me in telling of a place where he seen greenleaf birds in the wild. That sounded better than the place I scouted and planned to release him as it is better he get a girlfriend as well, including rivals that he will have to overcome for that girlfriend.

You all understand that I never will tell where that place is even if that is a protected nature reserve. Too many people read my blog and I think those greenleaf birds should remain unknown and hopefully undisturbed now and into the future.

LiBai will not be fed that 6 + 6 on a daily basis. That will be too boring for him and we will not want that.

I decided that one day in ten, he will get all the cucumber that he might want to eat. In which case, he will get 2 + 4

That on another day in ten, he will get all the apple or other fruits that he might want to eat. In which case, he will get 1 + 1

He will be weighed first time morning weight and maybe more through the day. And if necessary, I will adjust his food intake to make sure he stays within the weight range I decided is good for his long term health.

In last report, his last weight was 39.5 grams. I thought his morning first weight would be 37.5 grams.

On the 21 April, I weighed his morning first weight to be 37.8 grams. Close enough to my earlier estimate. He was then given his 6 + 6 .
By 6 30 pm, his weight was 39.0

And on the morning of 22 April, his morning first weight was 37.7 grams

I think my guestimate of 6 + 6 grams will be good to maintain him within the weight range.
Except I wanted him to be 36-38 grams.

I then decided 22 April will be a good day for him to be given all the cucumber he can eat. He got is 2 + 4 grams. And a humongous piece of cucumber about the size of himself. I did not want him to think I starve him.

More photos in Flickr folder LiBai - 4th lot of photos


I then went out on a long cycle ride. Coming back home thinking that I get a nice slim Libai.

To my shock, he ate so much of the cucmber that it was hollowed out.



I regret not having weighed that piece earlier to know just how much he ate. I was stunned to find his weight to be 39.7 grams. I thought cucumber was mainly water with no calories. I weighed him an hour later in case he had not pooped. I could not believe that as the paper under the perch looked drenched with his urine. I still found his weight to be about 39.5 grams. After crickets and mealworms, his weight was 39.8 3 hours later at end of the day.

I then found on internet that cucumber has little calories and not no calories. Libai ate enough of that to extract the calories. I estimated he might have eaten 50 grams of that cucumber, or more than his body weight. In future, there will be no such thing as all the cucumber that he can eat, and definately, not all the apple/fruit he can eat as well. A green leafbird can just eat such incredible amount.

Libai was bathing. I took video with my camera and hence at the normal speed. I could not bear to use my wife new camera that can take slow mo. That camera is pink. I have this suspicion my wife chose that ghastly shade of pink so that I would not be tempted to borrow it from her.

You will see later just how ghastly that camera is even if my wife is so proud of it.

Libai would be into the bath, then out of it to shake himself dry and preen and back into the water again. Repeated about 7-8 times. He spend very little time in the water. My wife had this interesting thought. That the birdie had to be wary of predators and could not immerse himself in the bath as I would have. I think dear wife is probably correct. Made me ashamed I could not think of that in the first place.

and yet another of Libai taking a bath

On the 23 April, his early morning weight was 37.9 despite his one day on cucumber earlier. I gave him his 4 + 4

My very good friend Cyrus, who was the 2 trigger in my getting of Tinkerbell, was coming over later in the afternoon to see LiBai. I think Libai would be getting lots of treats and perhaps better to give him less ration.

More photos in Flickr folder LiBai - 4th lot of photos



Ivan is not a lap cat. I do not know what cat he is. He decide for himself and change his mind often as to where he liked to be.


LiBai was ready to land on my wife finger now, but not captured on camera as yet.



Wife with her slow mo camera in ghastly shade of pink hoping to shoot LiBai landing on her finger.


Cyrus came over.

And Ivan decided he is a nice plaything.



I tried to call LiBai into the living room. But with a new guy there, he was a bit nervous of flying inside to me. He did that but immediately flew back to his flight room.

So we went to the flight room. LiBai was reluctant to land on Cyrus finger. So I told him to hold the perch instead. I was next to him holding the clicker as iconic reminder to Libai to come when cued.



I was surprised , and pleased when he did that. To be rewarded with meal worms and crickets.

Yingshiong the shama refused any interactions with Cyrus despite his coming over to my place so many times. YS would remain in his cage. He refused even the suris that Cyrus hold out to him so lovingly. YS never landed on my wife at all.

And here we have Libai landing on my wife finger and landing on perch hold by Cyrus on his first visit.

While I was happy, I was troubled too. LiBai might accept anyone and land on them after I released him. His freedom might not be long lasting.

LiBai last weight end of the day was 41.1 grams. I got too much lovely crickets and fat meal worms not to talk of loads of mash. It will be a real struggle to cut him down to 36 ++ grams. It will be too mean of me to play with him and not give him treats. Especially when he regarded me as a friend now. Just too tempting to toss him a worm or a cricket. And my wife spoiled him rotten especially as LB accepted her and landed on her finger.


Shama singing competition at Bishan

After playing with LiBai on that 23 April and dinner, Cyrus gave me a lift to Bishan for the shama singing competition that was going to take place that evening. Cyrus declined to stay and watch and said he will rely on my report.


I was there a bit earlier before the competition started at 7 30 pm. Competitors were there even earlier to give their shamas time to settle down. 96 shamas were set to compete. The cages had their covers on and in the process of being hung up.

More photos in Flickr folder LiBai - 4th lot of photos



Then the time came. The covers were removed to show the gorgeous shamas in their beautiful cages with exquisite bowls for water and food and lavish decorations.




The shamas were inspired by other shamas and they sang and sang and displayed and displayed. I wondered how Yingshiong would have been like if he was there. He would not be intimidated by any other shamas at all.

Below are 3 videos taken of the competition to show the sights and the sounds of 90 over shama songbirds singing away.

And the partial results posted below.

I had no idea how shamas were judged so do not ask me.


Many bird enthusiasts were there. I do not have a shama anymore. My pain of having to say goodbye to Yingshiong was too great for me to to have another shama. We all enjoyed the performance that night.

I was very happy to meet Mr David DeSouza there that night, the shama Guru who gave so much of himself and taught me much especially in the early days of Yingshiong and who gave me a generous starting culture of suris and millis. It must have been 6 years ago even if it seemed like it was yesterday.

I was also very happy to meet a member of a Singapore bird forum that I have known only by his postings. He recognised me from the many photos taken of me and my beasties and birdies. I recognised him only when he told me his handle was Flyinmysoup.

With Edumnd, Flyinmysoup.


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 conditioniong the clicker.

Start of clicker training - Conditioning the Clicker (Riamfada)

Clicker training - Conditioning of clicker day 1 (Yingshiong)

Tinkerbell Legacy - VH parrot and Clicker Training Rant 06

Some thoughts on clicker - The initial experience with Tinkerbell

Clicker training and bonding with Tinkerbell

if you forgotten about conditioniong the clicker.


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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