Laysan Albatross

Location: Kauai, Hawaii

Camera Host: Anonymous

Find more about Weather in Kilauea, HI

December 19, 2017

Sad News About Pilialoha

We’re saddened to share news that Pilialoha, one of the mothers of the young albatross Kalama during the 2017 cam season, died after an interaction with a Hawaii-permitted Deep Set longline vessel while she was foraging over the Pacific Ocean. Her death was reported by a trained National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) fisheries observer. In recent years, fishing vessels in the North American fleets have made important strides in reducing seabird mortality from bycatch thanks to research and new safety techniques promoted by the NMFS Office of Sustainable Fisheries. These new measures are effective 90% of the time when ships use streamers to scare birds away from hooks, weight lines so they sink faster, and bait hooks at night when birds are less active. However, even when vessels take precautions some seabirds are still killed. About 100 Laysan Albatrosses die from bycatch each year, down from a high of around 30,000 before driftnets were banned and longline safety measures taken. Research continues on the best ways to reduce that number—including a recent workshop in November involving multiple agencies and scientists. Seabirds who die as a result of interactions with fishing vessels (including Pilialoha) are also collected to provide valuable population-level information on demographics, distribution patterns, food habits, and pollution loads, with the hope of improving prospects for albatrosses and other seabirds in the future. Although it’s sad to learn that Mahealani’s partner from last year will not return, there’s a good likelihood that she will find a new mate in future years and continue to be a productive member of the albatross breeding population on Kauai. As we say farewell to Pilialoha and look ahead to the next breeding season on Kauai, we encourage you to remember the best times of these past few years and also to treasure the time on cam that we get with these amazing birds. Thanks for watching—we hope to be back online sometime in mid- to late-January. To learn more about about albatross conservation challenges and progress, click the "More" link.  More...

October 26, 2017

Make A Bid Today: Auction For "Reuniting" Is Closing Soon

Only a short while remains until the auction for "Reuniting," this original block print art from the new children's book "A Perfect Day for an Albatross" by author and artist Caren Loebel-Fried, is over. Bidding closes at midnight on October 31, 2017, so be sure to make your bid while you still can! Caren's creations were inspired by her time volunteering to census albatross populations on Midway Atoll, which inhabits seventy-two percent of the world's nesting population of Laysan Albatross. She has generously decided to donate the proceeds of the auction to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Even if you aren't able to make a bid on this original print, please share what you have to say about the piece! To make a bid and learn more about the this colorful original block print, please visit bit.ly/albatrossart . More...

July 20, 2017

Growing Up Kalama: 2017 Laysan Albatross Cam Highlights

Relive Kalama's most memorable moments from the 2017 Laysan Albatross cam including the star chick's first day out of the egg, development, and eventual fledge from the island of Kauai. 

July 20, 2017

Growing Up Kalama: 2017 Laysan Albatross Cam Highlights

Relive Kalama's most memorable moments from the 2017 Laysan Albatross cam including the star chick's first day out of the egg, development, and eventual fledge from the island of Kauai. 

July 19, 2017

Sneak Peek At "Kalama's Journey"

As the 2017 albatross season comes to a close, take a sneak peek at the trailer to a new film being created by the people behind the Kauai Albatross Network. The film features the star of the 2017 season, Kalama, in a blend of albatross ecology and traditional Kauaian storytelling.  

July 12, 2017

Cattle Egret Gets Too Close For Comfort on the Laysan Albatross Cam

Native to Africa, Cattle Egrets quickly spread across the Americas once they found their way here in 1877. With such a global presence, they are known by names, usually referencing the grazing animals they team up with across the world. In various languages they are known as cow cranes, cow herons, cow birds, elephant birds, rhinoceros egrets, and hippopotamus egrets. Here, one receives a rude welcoming after it wanders a little too close to Pu'u's favorite resting rock.  

December 19

Sad News About Pilialoha

We’re saddened to share news that Pilialoha, one of the mothers of the young albatross Kalama during the 2017 cam season, died after an interaction with a Hawaii-permitted Deep Set longline vessel while she was foraging over the Pacific Ocean. Her death was reported by a trained National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) fisheries observer. In recent years, fishing vessels in the North American fleets have made important strides in reducing seabird mortality from bycatch thanks to research and new safety techniques promoted by the NMFS Office of Sustainable Fisheries. These new measures are effective 90% of the time when ships use streamers to scare birds away from hooks, weight lines so they sink faster, and bait hooks at night when birds are less active. However, even when vessels take precautions some seabirds are still killed. About 100 Laysan Albatrosses die from bycatch each year, down from a high of around 30,000 before driftnets were banned and longline safety measures taken. Research continues on the best ways to reduce that number—including a recent workshop in November involving multiple agencies and scientists. Seabirds who die as a result of interactions with fishing vessels (including Pilialoha) are also collected to provide valuable population-level information on demographics, distribution patterns, food habits, and pollution loads, with the hope of improving prospects for albatrosses and other seabirds in the future. Although it’s sad to learn that Mahealani’s partner from last year will not return, there’s a good likelihood that she will find a new mate in future years and continue to be a productive member of the albatross breeding population on Kauai. As we say farewell to Pilialoha and look ahead to the next breeding season on Kauai, we encourage you to remember the best times of these past few years and also to treasure the time on cam that we get with these amazing birds. Thanks for watching—we hope to be back online sometime in mid- to late-January. To learn more about about albatross conservation challenges and progress, click the "More" link.  More...

July 17

Pu'u's Fledge Marks End of 2017 Season!

After heading out near the bluff on the evening of July 16, Pu'u appears to have fledged sometime between then and the morning of July 17! Pu'u's departure marks the final fledge of the 2017 Kauai Laysan Albatross cam and the end of another breeding season. Thanks to all of our viewers for making this the best season yet! Also, a big thanks to our volunteers, the landowner, and our partners at the Kauai Albatross Network for promoting Laysan Albatross education, conservation, and awareness. Mahalo! 

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

This year’s nest features Mahealani (KP672) and Pilialoha (K097), a female-female pair that spent time incubating an infertile egg on camera last year. Female-female pairs are relatively common in albatross colonies, and their commonness can change with the availability of suitable male mates and the success of prior nesting attempts. As with last year, this year one of the females in this pair laid an infertile egg. This year, however, several organizations involved in the conservation and management of albatrosses replaced the infertile egg with a fertile one from the Pacific Rim Missile Facility. Nesting must be discouraged along an active runway there to decrease the likelihood of collisions between the albatrosses and aircraft. Because the egg was saved from a nest at the facility, a young albatross will now have a chance at life with its foster moms.

This effort is part of a larger operation each year when biologists from the U.S. Navy gather eggs from nests at the facility to discourage nesting there. Researchers from Pacific Rim Conservation candle these eggs to assess their fertility. Viable eggs are then substituted for infertile eggs at other nests around the island, as well as helping to establish new colonies. Working together, the Kauai Albatross Network (KAN) and the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources placed 14 eggs at fenced properties with good albatross nesting habitat and landowners who manage for invasive predators such as cats, rats, and pigs.

All of the birds were given names by a Hawaiian kumu, or teacher (Learn more about their names.). It’s very difficult to tell adults 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

These Laysan Albatross nests are on the property 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, wood chips, and other vegetation, placed directly on the ground. Ornamental shrubs and palms help shade the nest from the tropical sun. A neat lawn leads away from the nests to a steep bluff over the Pacific Ocean, providing an excellent runway for the adults and, eventually, the chick, to take off.

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 also grateful for the help of the Kauai Albatross Network for finding this albatross nest.

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