The Albatross Season Begins on Kauai
The first egg at the Laysan Albatross cam site on the North Shore of Kauai has begun hatching just in time for the cam to go live! If everything proceeds normally, we expect the young albatross to emerge in the next 24-48 hours. Watch cam.
This year’s nest features Mahealani and Pilialoha, a female-female pair that spent time incubating an infertile egg on camera last year. Female-female pairs are relatively common in albatross colonies, and their commonness can change with the availability of suitable male mates and the success of prior nesting attempts. This year one of the females in this pair has again laid an infertile egg. This year, however, several organizations involved in the conservation and management of albatrosses replaced the infertile egg with a fertile one from the Pacific Rim Missile Facility. Nesting must be discouraged along an active runway there to decrease the likelihood of collisions between the albatrosses and aircraft. Because the egg was saved from a nest at the facility, a young albatross will now have a chance at life with its foster moms.
This effort is part of a larger operation each year when biologists from the U.S. Navy gather eggs from nests at the facility to discourage nesting there. Researchers from Pacific Rim Conservation candle these eggs to assess their fertility. Viable eggs are then substituted for infertile eggs at other nests around the island, as well as helping to establish new colonies. Working together, the Kauai Albatross Network (KAN) and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources placed 14 eggs at fenced properties with good albatross nesting habitat and landowners who manage for invasive predators such as cats, rats, and pigs.
Hob Osterlund, founder of KAN, played a central role in bringing together these widespread partners, and calls the egg translocation project “a model of cooperation between federal and state agencies along with private landowners and KAN, all working together for the good of the birds.”
Thanks to the hard work of these organizations, the generosity of the cam site landowner, and the support of the cam community, we all get to witness another season in the lives of albatrosses from the garden island. As always, even if you can’t watch, you can follow along with the happenings at the cam site on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks for watching!