Be a Better Birder Tutorial 2

Laysan Albatross

Location: Kauai, Hawaii

Camera Host: Anonymous

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April 17, 2014

Kaluahine Returns For More Feeding

Kaloakulua had a break from feeding yesterday, but has received another morning feed from Kaluahine today. The female parent sat with the nestling for a long time. At one point Kaluahine chased off some visiting unbanded birds and a chicken sat in Kaloakulua's original nest. What a busy day! 

April 15, 2014

A Busy Day for a Well Fed Kaloakulua

After an early morning feed from female parent, Kaluahine, the nestling is visited by male parent Kaluakane in the afternoon. Arriving around 4pm Kaluakane wanders back and fourth over the hill several times, possibly to see the neighboring nestling. Kaloakulua receives a quick feed from Kaluakane before he visits the local teenage albatrosses. The male parent even sits close to the nestling while visiting banded bird O815 drops in and inspects Kaloakulua. Later in the evening the nestling receives yet another feed from one of the parents. One very well fed nestling! 

April 15, 2014

Kaluahine Returns, Chases a Visitor and Feeds Kaloakulua

After chasing away an unbanded visitor female parent Kaluahine feeds Kaloakulua once more. 

April 15, 2014

Kaluahine Returns, Chases a Visitor and Feeds Kaloakulua

After chasing away an unbanded visitor female parent Kaluahine feeds Kaloakulua once more. 

April 13, 2014

Parent Returns Again to Feed Kaloakulua

A parent returns later the same morning to feed Kaloakulua, we are unable to tell which one as the band is difficult to read. It has been 13 days since the nestling's last meal. 

April 10, 2014

Laysan Albatross Perform Beautiful Courtship Dance

K256 and an unbanded individual practice an enchanting courtship dance at the site of Kaloakulua's original nest. The nestling now spending most of the time in a nest she constructed herself on the grass. 

April 02

The Results Are In. Kaloakulua is FEMALE!

A DNA sample was taken from Kaloakulua when scientists Lindsay Young, PhD of Pacific Rim Conservation and Brooke McFarland from State of Hawaii Department of Forestry and Wildlife, visited the nest site March 18. The visit was supported by Kauai Albatross Network Today we can confirm that the DNA test indicates that the Laysan Albatross nestling we have been watching for just over 9 weeks is female! 

March 27

A First Glimpse at Kaloakulua's New Adult Plumage

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/ grey down feathers fall away to reveal brown and white adult-like plumage beneath. The chicks begin to shed their down feathers from their underparts upward.  More...

January 27

Young Albatross Hatched!

Despite the rain at daybreak, a few glimpse of a wet, downy albatross chick were spotted on cam. The chick likely spent nearly two days working its way out of the shell. 

Laysan Albatross


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.



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

These two Laysan Albatrosses were banded as adults on Kauai in 2008. We don’t know their ages exactly, but they are at least nine years old. The pair nested on this property in 2012-2013, although last year their nest was not successful.

The two birds were given names by a Hawaiian kumu, or teacher. The male’s name is Kaluakane and the female’s name is Kaluahine. (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.

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.


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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