We might also see a bird with its feathers fluffed out to make itself look larger, or birds facing each other with their mouths wide open or wings outstretched. We also look for “bow threat,” which is when a bird bows its head low below the perch and then quickly raises it back up. Guam kingfisher pairs always have access to two enclosures in case they want to be apart, and we keep a close eye on them as they get to know each other. We look for these threat postures and monitor their eating habits to make sure one bird is not dominating all the food areas.
If we see any fighting, we separate the pair right away. Often, the birds will move on their own when we walk in, but we can also use nets to safely separate them. They can still see each other through a large mesh door, and branches extend through the door so that they can sit next to each other. Fuetsa and Kahåya often sit next to each other after a “break-up,” so we have attempted to reunite them several times. But it seems that they are just not ready to be together, so Fuetsa and Kahåya will be taking a break until they start to display more behaviors that tell us they are ready to breed.
Meanwhile, our youngest pair of Guam kingfishers is outshining all the others! In February, Animu and Giha laid their first clutch of two eggs. The eggs were not fertile, meaning there were no developing embryos inside, but this was not surprising given Animu’s young age. The youngest male known to have produced a fertile egg was 11 months old, and Animu was only 10 months old in February. The most exciting part was that Giha and Animu took care of the eggs all on their own. We often have to step in and incubate Guam kingfisher eggs, so the birds don’t break them or eject them from the nest. However, Animu and Giha were rock stars and incubated their eggs for 21 days.