Sign up for eNews

Laysan Albatross

Location: Kauai, Hawaii

Camera Host: Anonymous

Find more about Weather in Kilauea, HI

June 23, 2015

Ko’olau Returns to Feed Niaulani

Niau’s father Ko’olau stopped by June 22 for a brief feed. The visit the following day was longer and in this clip we see Niau being fed a mixture of oil and solids. 

June 23, 2015

Niaulani's Parents Reunite

In this touching clip we see Niau's parents Ko'olau and Malumalu sit close to their chick and each other. Allopreening to maintain their close bond. Watch out for the comical photo-bombs from the visiting egrets. 

June 10, 2015

Niau Gets Caught Out by Sprinkler

Niau was resting soundly when all of a sudden an automatic sprinkler rises out of the ground and sprays the young bird. 

June 23, 2015

Niaulani's Parents Reunite

In this touching clip we see Niau's parents Ko'olau and Malumalu sit close to their chick and each other. Allopreening to maintain their close bond. Watch out for the comical photo-bombs from the visiting egrets. 

June 23, 2015

Ko’olau Returns to Feed Niaulani

Niau’s father Ko’olau stopped by June 22 for a brief feed. The visit the following day was longer and in this clip we see Niau being fed a mixture of oil and solids. 

June 10, 2015

Niau Gets Caught Out by Sprinkler

Niau was resting soundly when all of a sudden an automatic sprinkler rises out of the ground and sprays the young bird. 

May 23

Kala`i Update, May 23

We wish to thank the cam community for your expressions of caring, support, and concern in the days since we reported the loss of Kala`i. It means a lot to everyone involved in the project, both here at the Cornell Lab and on Kaua`i, where teams of volunteers and wildlife rehabilitation professionals worked to ensure that Kala`i had the best possible chance of recovery. Thank you. We have also received your requests for more information about Kala`i's condition, and have been working to gather additional details. As mentioned earlier, Kala`i was brought into care because the injuries weren't healing as they should have been. The evaluation included x-rays which revealed that Kala`i had developed additional fractures in the other (right) leg and pubis bone in the interim and that they were not repairable. The fact that Kala`i developed new fractures suggested the possibility of an underlying physiological or metabolic problem. We have now received additional news of two chicks elsewhere on the island with injuries after banding by a different team of seasoned banding professionals from another wildlife agency. These injuries also included fractured femurs, a discovery that suggests the possibility of exposure to something in the environment that could be causing weakened bones among this cohort of chicks. Following consultation with wildlife veterinarians and wildlife professionals, both chicks were euthanized today. Banding has now been ceased on private and public lands until there is further information about the condition of these birds and the cause. We are told that necropsies for all three birds will be performed by a professional in Honolulu. To our knowledge, the finding of chicks with fragile or broken bones on the island is unprecedented. It is unclear at this time whether the necropsies will yield useful information, but we will provide updates as they become available. We ask your patience since the analyses and report may take some time. The Kaua`i Humane Society and Save Our Shearwaters have shouldered the bulk of the effort and expense during the care of all three chicks. You can donate to help defray their costs and support ongoing recovery efforts with a note in the acknowledgements, “Albatross Recovery Efforts.” (Click the "More" link.) Thank you! More...

May 20

Sad News About Kala`i

We are very sad to update you with some difficult news about Kala`i. As you know, wildlife rehabilitators brought Kala`i in for evaluation yesterday. Although they had hoped to see signs of recovery, they discovered that Kala`i’s condition had worsened. Consultation with a highly regarded wildlife veterinarian made it clear that recovery was not possible. To prevent suffering, the decision was made to euthanize Kala`i. We realize this will come as very sad news to you, as it is to us and everyone involved. Our understanding is that it's unknown what the underlying cause was for Kala`i’s initial and continuing condition. Throughout this difficult experience, we’ve been thankful for the care, respect, and efforts of the organizations involved in trying to help Kala`i recover, and thankful for the thoughtful and caring support of the cam community. 

March 31

Niau Shows First Glimpse of White Feathers!

Young Laysan Albatrosses start to look like adults as soon as they get rid of their initial downy coat. As they grow and start to approach fledging, the brown down feathers fall away to reveal brown and white adultlike plumage beneath. The chicks begin to shed their down feathers from their underparts upward. Older chicks often have funny looking “haloes” or “toupees” of brown down clinging to their otherwise smooth white heads. Something to look forward to! More...

Laysan Albatross

Ground

Nest Placement

Females place their nests on sparsely vegetated ground, typically close to a small shrub if available.

Nest Description

On sandy islands such as Midway and Laysan, the female lies in the sand and scrapes out a hollow with her feet. By rotating around, she forms a circular depression, then gives the nest a low rim by assembling twigs, leaves, and sand picked up from the immediate area around the nest. On larger islands such as Kauai, Hawaii, the birds nest more often on grass or under trees and build the nest rim from leaf litter, ironwood needles, and twigs. The nest (including rim) is about 3 feet in diameter and a couple of inches deep. Often the female continues nest construction while incubation is under way.

Clutch Size

1-1 eggs

Incubation Period

62-66 days

Nestling Period

165-165 days

Egg Description

Creamy white with brown spotting.

Condition at Hatching

Covered in gray-white down giving a salt-and-pepper appearance; eyes are open; weighing about 7 ounces.

Fish

Food

Laysan Albatrosses eat mainly squid as well as fish eggs, crustaceans, floating carrion, and some discards from fishing boats. They feed by sitting on the water and plunging with their beaks to seize prey near the surface. Adults with chicks to feed take foraging trips that last up to 17 days and travel 1,600 miles away from their nest (straight-line distance).

Typical Voice

Laysan Albatrosses make a variety of whining, squeaking, grunting, and moaning calls on the breeding grounds, particularly during courtship.more sounds

See full Species Info at All About Birds

About the Albatrosses

There are two nests featured on camera this year. All of the birds were given names by a Hawaiian kumu, or teacher (Learn more about their names.). It’s very difficult to tell the two parents apart by sight unless you can glimpse their band numbers. Laysan Albatrosses are large seabirds, though they are small compared to other albatrosses. They measure about 2.5 feet long and can weigh 10 pounds. Their wingspan is about 7 feet.

The parents of the nest in front of the cam under the palm tree are mom Malumalu (K312) and dad Ko’olau (KP975); they are the parents of Mango who featured on last year’s Albatross Cam. Both were banded as adults in 2008 and it is thought that they fledged around 2003 or earlier. They were sighted courting here in 2012-2013.

The parents of the chick on the nest under the banana tree to the left of Malumalu and Ko’olua are dad Akamai (K039) and mom Ala (A379). Ala was banded in 2014 and was actually seen on the Albatross Cam starting in mid-March last year. Ala could be a new mate for Akamai. She also might be his previous unbanded mate. Last year the pair abandoned their nest, which is common when birds choose to sekip a breeding year. Two years ago they raised a healthy chick that successfully fledged.

There is a nest just out of site of the camera close to the driveway; the parents are dad Kuapo’i (K426), and mom Kalana (unbanded). Two years ago they raised a healthy chick that successfully fledged.

Last year’s on-camera parents are also nesting on the property at a site out of view. Although they are banded, we don’t know exactly how old Kaluakane (K325) and Kaluahine (KP762) are because they were banded as adults. They are at least ten years old. They have been together for at least two years, although their egg failed to hatch two years ago. Last year they raised Kaloakulua, the star of the first season.

Albatrosses lay only one egg per year at most. Incubation takes about 64 days. The two parents take turns incubating the egg, with the male taking the first shift. Incubation shifts can last several weeks, and the incubating bird fasts during that time. After hatching, the parents go on long foraging trips during which they may travel 1,600 miles and stay away for up to 17 days. The chick takes about 5.5 months to grow to adult size and take to the air. Once in flight, these young birds will not touch land again for 3–5 years.

About the Nest

This Laysan Albatross nest is in the yard of a private residence on the north shore of Kauai, near the town of Kilauea, Hawaii. The nest is a neat bowl of dry ironwood needles and other vegetation, placed directly on the ground. Ornamental shrubs and palms help shade the nest from the tropical sun. A neat lawn leads about 150 feet to a steep bluff over the Pacific Ocean, providing an excellent runway for the adults and, eventually, the chick, to take off. There is another Laysan Albatross nest in the same yard, about 30 feet from this one.

Acknowledgments

Thanks to the landowners, who wish to remain anonymous, for allowing us access to this nest and to the property manager for helping to maintain the camera during the season. We are grateful for the help of the Kauai Albatross Network for finding this albatross nest, and to kumu Sabra Kauka for naming the albatrosses.

More questions about the albatrosses? Check our Albatross Cam FAQ page.

Birds of North America Online
Build a Birdhouse