When people ask me if the albatrosses recognize me and feel comfortable with me, I always answer, “Hopefully they will never feel comfortable with me. I do not want them to see human beings as their friends because they will be healthier and safer if they don’t.”
Even if albatrosses do not “act nervous” their bodies will be producing a hormone that can make them less physically fit. Someone who cares about these birds would not want to have that effect on them.
As an observer, I have a special obligation to these birds. Any person who would spend an inordinate amount of time with these birds, especially if they are closer than the 25 feet which is recommended for longer observations, is putting personal gratification above the birds’ safety. Albatrosses are not Fido and Fluffy, they are animals who must live on their own in the wild. They are much better off not trusting any people because there will always be people who are not their friends.
Interesting Princeville statistics:
By December 28th last year there were 10 abandoned nests with 18 couples still incubating their eggs.
By December 28th this year there are 5 abandoned nests with 32 couples still incubating their eggs.
At this time of year Midway is filled with seabirds, and in particular with albatrosses. Every year some hardy volunteers fly there to help with the nest count, which is usually in the vicinity of half a million or so. For the last 3 years volunteers from the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge were part of the team, and their blogs are fun to read for anyone who loves albatrosses.
Marilou Knight went to Midway in December of 2009:
Marilou was also at Midway last year:
Sharon Donnelly went this year with her husband, Gil:
The USFWS wildlife biologist at Midway, Pete Leary, has a blog filled with interesting information about all of the seabirds there. The tsunami that devastated Japan had a big impact on these birds. One of his blog entries was about this:
The title of this photo is, “Lawn mowed way too close to albatross nest.”
This is definitely not typical of the gardeners in Princeville, especially the ones who have worked here for a while. They usually go out of their way to leave the nesting birds alone.