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December 17, 2014

Duck Chase

We can see in this video that some aggressive looking chasing is going on between the mallards behind the Cornell Feeders. During nonbreeding season, both males and females engage in threatening, pecking, and brief chasing, on land or water, in feeding flocks, and in disputes over favored resting sites. Overt aggression by males is frequently associated with pair formation and mate defense in wintering flocks and territory defense early in breeding season. On both water and land, the male gives an open-bill threat, rushes at the opponent with head held low, chases by running, and pecks or bites the opponent. Fighting involves breast-to-breast pushing, opponents’ bills pointing down in front; frequently resulting in denuded patches on the males’ breasts during pairing disputes in winter. At high intensities, blows are also struck with wings, and circular fighting may occur, as we can see in this clip. On territory boundaries, evenly matched males rush along flapping over water, side by side. 

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.  

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