The chicks eventually learn the variety of adult vocalizations that were once well-known in the forests of Guam for being so loud throughout the day and night. Chamorro people, the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands, have a legend of how the Guam kingfisher came to be. A village woman wore a blue dress, a white apron and an orange scarf around her head. One day, a taotaomo’na (a spirit of Chamorro ancestors) turned the woman into the first female kingfisher for making trouble. And after that, her loud cry could often be heard in the forest.
We are extremely pleased with how Animu and Giha have taken on their parenting responsibilities. In fact, this is the first time since 1985 that a Guam kingfisher pair at SCBI has successfully raised their own chick. We have a feeling it won’t be the last for this pair.
Not all our kingfishers have been as successful as Animu and Giha. In my last post, I also introduced you to our most genetically valuable pair, Fuetsa (fu-et-sah) and Kahåya (ka-ha-ja). We have been trying to introduce these two for breeding, but they have other ideas. They tend to bicker after a few days together, but still call for each other when separated. We reintroduced them after several weeks and were optimistic when Kahåya began spending a lot of time in her favorite nest cavity. This usually indicates that a female will soon lay eggs. Unfortunately, Kahåya laid her egg while perched on a branch, and the egg broke when it hit the ground.
We don’t know why she chose to lay her egg outside the nest, but this behavior has been seen before in the species. Luckily, Guam kingfishers can lay several clutches of eggs in a year. We hope she will lay an egg inside the nest cavity next time. For now, we set up makeshift “egg catchers” under her favorite perching spots. If she does lay another egg outside of the nest, it will hopefully have a softer place to land.
While some of our birds are not getting the hang of things yet, Animu and Giha continue to keep us busy. We noticed that Giha stopped feeding her chick after May 13 and only visited the nest once in the following days. This all made sense when we discovered that Giha had laid a new egg in a nest cavity in the pair’s larger enclosure. A second egg arrived May 18. Animu has taken over parental duties while Giha incubates her new eggs.