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December 16, 2014

All Nests Are Fertile!

Great news- all four albatross nests on the property on Kauai where our cam is located have been confirmed fertile, Kaloakulua and Mango's parents' new eggs included. We are very excited to receive this news from Pacific Rim Conservation and the Kauai Albatross Network. A few more things have to come together to get the camera set up once again in the new year, but this is certainly a step in the right direction. Researchers from Pacific Rim Conservation assessed the fertility of the eggs via "candling." This technique examines the development of the embryo inside the egg by shining a bright light behind it to show the details through the shell. This has to be done under a cover of darkness. It's a quick process that takes only a few seconds, at which point the eggs are returned to the incubating parents. Listen out for Mango's Dad Ko'olau during the candling. Thanks to everyone involved in finding out the great news and a special thanks to Bird Cams Volunteer Jody Platt for part of the video and to Hob Osterlund/ KAN for the other part of the video.  

December 13, 2014

Why do Albatross Skip a Breeding Year?

We have previously mentioned that we are waiting to find out if the albatross eggs close to our AlbatrossCam are fertile, but do you know why there is a possibility they may not hatch? Albatross in general have low reproductive rates, each pair only produce one egg and chick at a time. This single egg is also not replaced if it is destroyed or infertile. Also in several species a large number of successful pairs breed only once every second year ('biennial' breeding). There are a number of theories why albatrosses may miss a year in breeding- 1. larger animals breed more slowly, 2. ecological constraints- distant feeding trips are energetically costly, 3. breeding frequency has a strong trade-off with adult survival and age at maturity- slower breeders live through more breeding seasons, 4. incomplete primary feather molts may periodically force them to skip a year of breeding to replace worn flight feathers. Kaluahine and Kaluakane did not breed successfully in 2013. We certainly hope that we will have at least one successful nest within view of the camera. We will keep you posted with help from the wonderful volunteers at KAN. Thanks to Hob Osterlund of KAN for the fantastic image of Kaluahine and Kaluakane on the property on Kauai.  

December 12, 2014

Mrs. Sweetie

We know we have a lot of Sweetie fans out there so we thought we would tell you a little bit more about Mrs. Sweetie. We think Mrs. Sweetie is a mate of our resident flightless male Canada Goose. She spends time with Sweetie over the winter and early spring. You can see them here to the right of the CornellFeeders. Birder on the Ground Ferris, back in 2011, noticed that Mrs. Sweetie was banded. Ferris took a photograph of the band and contacted the USGS to find out more information about her. According to their records she was banded back in June 2007 as a young gosling in Brooktondale, New York. This makes Mrs. Sweetie just over 7 years old. Her mate has not been banded so we do not know the exact age of Sweetie, but we do know he has been resident at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for at least 7 years. 

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