Date: 3/11/17 2:43 pm
From: Kojo Baidoo <baidookojo6...>
Subject: [MDBirding] Spring is on the way
Apollo and Hera have been quite busy over the last couple of weeks, renovating the nest and mating with each other, Usually, the morning for me starts off with finding them perched together in a favorite tree. Then, Hera sees me and flies off to wherever, while Apollo just watches me for about five seconds before losing interest. Then, he switches to several perches to keep an eye on his domain for about an hour before Hera returns, he flies off to meet her, and they mate. Then, she goes off to hunt, while he either flies to the other part of the forest that he prefers hunting in (basically, the part of the. forest that isn't in the immediate vicinity of the nest) to continue. sitting around, does a bit of branching (breaking off sticks to go place on/in the nest), or goes to hunt. There are, of course, a few variations in this routine which seems to be a mix of their usual winter habits (the sitting around part) and preparing for spring. For example, when the Red-tails try to intrude, the pair goes all warrior mode, working together as a team to drive their larger cousins out (it's usually only one individual). Later in the season, Hera will also become more tame, usually around the time she lays her eggs. My guess is that it's the protective mother instinct kicking in.

Anyone who read my posts about these birds may recall that I did end up finding another breeding RSHA pair in my neighborhood, an adult male and an immature (sexually mature, apparently) female. Around the time Apollo and Hera started to become active, these two seem to have done the same; the male bird is calling in the field behind my house often. A mystery that I have yet to solve is why the bird he is mated with has not seem to have molted and grown adult plumage yet. Last year, she was in the same immature plumage, and had tattered tail feathers (the ends were, at least) which helped me to identify her . I saw a similarly plumaged bird over the course of the winter a couple of times, but I thought it was just a visited bird from farther up North. Looking at pictures, I saw that it had the same tattered feather ends as the bird from last spring. If they are the same bird, I am very confused as to why she has not grown adult feathers; I read that immatures usually change in their second fall, which would have been in 2016 for this bird. At first I thought that she had changed when I had a fleeting glance of her flying away, but a much better look last Sunday said otherwise. Can anybody explain this? She appears to be very healthy; she wasn't the tamest when I found her over the winter, which suggests that (although tameness can be an individual trait, sick or hungry birds are usually more so) so I have no idea what's causing this. There's also the possibiltiy that the adult male simply happened to mate with two different immature females, which is pretty weird. I doubt I'll ever really know the true story, but I might as well try, right?

Good Birding,

Kojo Baidoo
Reisterstown, MD


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