Albatrosses are known to be synchronous nesters: The Laysan albatrosses here all lay their eggs from the end of November to mid-December, and they all hatch from the end of January into mid-February. We are in the middle of our hatching season in Princeville, one of my favorite times of the year.
Being human rather than seabird, we do not necessarily know when an albatross is feeling stressed by our presence. They react involuntarily by producing stress hormones in their blood. This is actually detrimental to their physical well-being, and as an observer it is my duty to avoid causing this outcome. That means I cannot sit by a bird waiting for the perfect photo. I have a zoom lens on my camera and try to stay at a distance from the albatrosses, and I grab a few photos and leave. Someone told me I should spend some time with them so they feel safe with me, but I do not want them to feel safe with any humans. Not every human is their friend, it is better if the albatrosses learn not to trust any of us.
Here is a brand new chick, feathers still wet:
I wrote about KP680 in my January 3rd blog, “Biography of an albatross.” She and her mate, KP731, split up when she missed a nesting season after getting stuck in a fenced in yard that she could not escape from without help. Her mate met another female the next season and had a nest with that her the following year. Eventually he returned to KP680. This is a photo of KP680 and their newly hatched chick:
In the next photo another baby is welcomed into a big, scary world. KP298 hatched in my neighborhood 10 years ago, but he chose to nest on the golf course. Some birds nest close to where they first pecked their way out of their eggs; others prefer to move to another area. Why the difference in behavior? When I learn how to speak Albatross it will be one of the first questions I ask them, after “How do you choose a mate?”