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Laysan Albatross

Location: Kauai, Hawaii

Camera Host: Anonymous

Find more about Weather in Kilauea, HI

February 26, 2015

Kala'i Receives Another Feeding

We believe Malumalu departed nest 1 and Niau around 7PM the previous night, but it looks like Ala may have stuck around over night, feeding nestling Kala'i at nest 2 in the early morning, just before sunrise. 

February 25, 2015

Protein-packed Smoothie

Check out this great video clip created by Bird Cams volunteer Kim Rogers of Malumalu feeding her nestling. Laysan Albatrosses eat mostly squid that they catch by plunging their heads underwater as they sit on the surface. They also eat fish eggs, floating carrion, and sometimes discards from fishing boats. Adults digest food in their stomachs and then feed their chicks large amounts of nutritious stomach oil- that is the yellow liquid we can see in the clip. 

February 25, 2015

Both Mothers Ala and Malumalu Return

K312 Malumalu, Niau's Mom (nest 1), returned to feed her nestling after foraging out at sea for 5 days. Ala A379 also returned to her nestling after being out at sea for 3 days. More...

February 25, 2015

Niau Snaps at Foraging Rooster

We have seen local rooster Tom visit Niau's nest a few times now, but this is the first time the Albatross nestling has snapped at the rooster digging in its nesting area. Tom didn't stick around after that. 

February 25, 2015

Protein-packed Smoothie

Check out this great video clip created by Bird Cams volunteer Kim Rogers of Malumalu feeding her nestling. Laysan Albatrosses eat mostly squid that they catch by plunging their heads underwater as they sit on the surface. They also eat fish eggs, floating carrion, and sometimes discards from fishing boats. Adults digest food in their stomachs and then feed their chicks large amounts of nutritious stomach oil- that is the yellow liquid we can see in the clip. 

February 24, 2015

Rooster Visits Niau for a Dust Bath

The local rooster nicknamed 'Tom Cruise' by our Bird Cams volunteers, and likely father to George from last season, may appear in this clip to be displaying some aggression at little Laysan Albatross Niau's nest (nest 1), however he is actually just trying to have a dust bath. Something that many people that keep chickens would have seen before. There is a lack of particularly dusty areas on the property and Niau's nest area appears to be the best option. Our Laysan Albatross nestling is completely fine and will most likely start to move around the yard soon. The young bird has already made a couple attempts to venture out on the the grass. 

February 24

Niau Climbs Out of the Nest

Niau climbs out of her nest bowl for the first time, spending a short time checking out the lawn before tumbling back in the nest again.  More...

February 19

Kiu Also Left Alone

Kiu, Kaloakulua's sibling, has also been reported to be alone for the first time. Parents Kaluahine and Kaluakane have both left to forage out at sea. Thanks to Hob Osterlund of the Kauai Albatross Network for the great photograph. More...

February 17

Niau's First Night Alone

At just over 2 weeks old little Niau is left alone for the first time. This is normal behavior for albatross. Both parents are out at sea foraging for squid. They could return tomorrow or in a few days time. 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.

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