Let me reiterate a point I made earlier. I NEVER take a photo of a chick by sticking a camera close to him. This would be extremely stressful for the parent; nobody who loves albatrosses and who cares about their well-being would ever do this.
As of Saturday, February 4th, in Princeville we have 14 chicks, 3 more just beginning to pip, 4 that are overdue to start to pip, and 3 that should be starting soon. The 4 that are overdue are PMRF eggs that spent over 2 weeks in an incubator. Those eggs do not do as well as the others.
When the chick breaks through the shell, that is called pipping. In one of my previous posts I referred to a temporary “egg tooth,” a hardened bump that develops on the end of the upper bill that helps the chick break through the hard shell that encloses him. Here is a photo of that structure. It’s the little white dot:
On January 3rd I wrote about KP679, a female who has only raised one chick since I started collecting data in 2005. Her last mate left her to return to his first mate, and that pair now have a chick. KP679 laid an egg that I never saw another bird incubating, and then left her egg on January 4th. The egg never broke; she returned to sit on it on January 24th. She has been incubating the egg ever since. There is no way this egg could be viable, but I’m guessing that she won’t leave the egg until it breaks. Some albatrosses seem bound and determined to have a chick no matter what insurmountable obstacles are placed in their path to parenthood.
Last year a chick hatched with the yolk sac still attached. The yolk sac provides nutrition to the developing egg and is normally absorbed by the time the chick hatches. The mother was observed pecking parts of the shell away, “helping” the chick to hatch. He came out before he should have, and died. In other years she has abandoned the egg, but since 2004 she has also had two chicks who fledged. This year this female has a beautiful, healthy chick. She and her mate took turns incubating; the chick was hatching for a couple of days with Dad on board, then the third day I found it hatched, with Mom.