Nesting outcomes, good and bad

In this blog entry I refer to PMRF eggs.  For those of you who have not read all of my posts, please refer to December 18th for a discussion of the PMRF egg swap which takes place on Kaua’i every year.

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I mentioned that there were two nests with females whose mates had not yet returned to take a turn incubating their eggs.  In the last two days I saw the outcome for these two, KP513 and KP470.

KP513

KP513 has been nesting with her mate since the 2007-2008 season.  I’m afraid KP641 never returned to take his turn incubating.  I have not seen him since November 24th, and I assume he did not make it back.  Yesterday I found the nest abandoned.  I left her egg there, because she may return to sit on it briefly before finally accepting that this nesting season is over for her.  Other birds may use the egg as part of their courtship displays.

Eventually KP513 will start to socialize with other birds.  There is a wide variation in the behavior of albatrosses who have lost mates.  Some seem to start looking for a new one right away, others take several years to find one.  Some birds never find a mate in the area where they always nested; they may move to another place in Princeville to continue the search.

I hope KP513 finds a good one.

KP513 sitting on her egg

KP470

I have observed KP470’s nesting behavior since the 2005-2006 season.  In that period, as well as in the next four seasons, her life in Princeville followed this pattern:

She always had her nests next to or in the middle of the Oceans golf course.

I would see her sitting near a male, KP471, then 8 to 10 days later KP470 would be sitting on an egg.  I never saw them display together, or even sit touching each other, but he was the only bird in close association with her.  8 to 10 days later she would be sitting on an egg.  Sometimes the egg was fertile, sometimes it was not.

KP471 would never incubate KP470’s egg, nor would anyone else.

Eventually KP470 would abandon the egg.  One time she sat on it for 43 days before leaving it, another time she incubated her egg for 54 days.  That is definitely the incubation record for Princeville.

Last year, KP471 did not return to Princeville at all.  It was the first year since I have been observing her that KP470 did not have an nest.  I saw her display with a few birds, twice with another female, KP735.  The only “quiet contact” typical of mates that I saw her engage in was also with KP735.  So when I found her sitting on an egg this December, I was hopeful that she had finally found someone to share incubation with her.  A few days later KP735 was in the nest with her and they were gently grooming each other.  But the next day, KP735 was gone and there was a second egg near the nest.  KP470’s egg was candled and found to be infertile, so she was given a PMRF egg.

Once again, KP470 was stuck with the first, generally longest incubation shift.  I started to worry when she reached the 30-day mark.

KP470 on her egg

Yesterday KP735 was sitting on the egg!

I sincerely hope that all of our PMRF eggs hatch this year.  But if I could choose only one or two, the very un-scientific but very human part of me would want to finally get to see KP470 raise the chick that she has spent so many days of her life waiting for.

 

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