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Laysan Albatross

Location: Kauai, Hawaii

Camera Host: Anonymous

Find more about Weather in Kilauea, HI

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.  

December 10, 2014

When Will the Cam Go Live?

Many of you have contacted us asking when the Albatross Cam will go live. Unfortunately we cannot give you a straight forward answer right now. It depends on a few factors. One key factor is whether there are nests in appropriate locations for our camera and another is whether the eggs in those nests are fertile. We will be able to tell if they are fertile hopefully later this month when Eric VanderWerf of Pacific Rim Conservation and volunteers from the Kauai Albatross Network (KAN) will visit to candle the eggs and see what is inside. Thanks to Hob Osterlund for the fantastic image of a third nest on the property on Kauai. 

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.  

August 21, 2014

Albatross Cam Highlights 2014

Are you missing Kauai Laysan Albatross Kaloakulua? Take a trip down memory lane and check out these highlights from the Albatross Cam 2014 season. Thanks to the viewers and cam operators for making this season so memorable and special thanks to the Kauai Albatross Network, to the landowners and to donors for making this season possible. 

June 27, 2014

Mango Continues Flight Practice

During sunrise we watch Mango continue to practice for flight, taking flappy runs up the knoll. The Laysan Albatross live stream ends at sunset, we are likely to miss Mango's fledge, but hope he has a successful first flight. Thanks to Elizabeth Smith for the video. 

November 27

Kaluahine Lays Egg

Kaluahine has laid an egg! We think it was laid either November 26 or 27. The Kauai Albatross Network inform us that the egg has been laid in the nest that male parent Kaluakane chose earlier in the week, so it is out of view of the camera, however there are other nesters in view of the cam. We should know later this month if any of the eggs are fertile. Thanks to Hob Osterlund, founder of KAN for the report and great photograph. More...

November 25

This Date Last Year

One year ago today the Kauai Albatross Network (KAN) discovered AlbatrossCam's Kaluahine incubating a brand new egg. Kaloakulua hatched two months later! Will Kaluahine lay another fertile egg this season or will the albatross pair take a year off? KAN will keep us posted. Click 'More...' to find out about KAN. Photograph taken by KAN founder Hob Osterlund. More...

November 21

Mango's Parents Together Again

Mango's parents are reunited. Mango's Mom has turned up a day later than Dad. Photo by Hob Osterlund/Kauai Albatross Network. 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

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.

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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