On February 21st, the 20th Princeville chick hatched. This is the latest chick we have had here, at least in the last 7 seasons. The same couple also had the last one in 2011. This makes our total twice the number of chicks that fledged in 2011.
I didn’t even try to take a photo; when the chick first hatches the parents are at their most protective, for obvious reasons. I can usually tell when a chick has just hatched by the parent’s behavior; they stay firmly in place and clack their bills at me if I get too close. The tiny little things are so vulnerable and helpless, and I have no interest in upsetting an albatross parent to take a picture.
I always enjoy watching parents switch babysitting duties at the nest. Often the returning bird can hardly wait to be with the chick, while the nester is reluctant to part with him. Sometimes they change position relatively quickly. When the male at this nest returned, I went to my car to get my camera and he had already switched places with the female when I got back. That’s the female to the left, taking a last look at the chick. She has to fly out to sea and get food for herself and for her chick.
The chicks are growing fast. Most of them are really too large for the parent to totally cover.
The parents are leaving their chicks alone at the nest more and more frequently. As I explained in my last post, I put signs up to tell people that this is normal albatross behavior. The parents will spend less and less time at the nest, and their visits will get shorter and shorter. People should not assume that the parents are not visiting their chick if they don’t see the adults there. I check the nests almost every day and as the season goes on I probably miss most of the parents’ visits to their nests. The chicks are all getting big and fat, so someone must be feeding them!