I sometimes forget that many people reading this blog have never seen any albatross interactions except in documentaries. Even checking the birds every day I miss seeing most of these albatross activities, but now that I have this blog to write I am trying to film behaviors that may be of interest. At this time of year, most of the parents spend so little time with the chicks that I am always happy to see that a little one is being fed and to know that the parent doing the feeding is still alive. In seven years of collecting data, I have never seen an albatross parent desert a chick. If a parent disappears while the chick is still here, I never see that adult again and I assume he or she has died.
The chick in this video hatched from a PMRF egg and is being dutifully reared by two mothers, KP753 and K672; the latter bird was originally banded at the Pacific Missile Range Facility.
Here is a short history of this couple:
In 2005-2006, KP753 displayed on several occasions with another female and a male. The following two years, I often saw these females with this male; both females nested near each other but the male chose to sit on the other female’s egg. Both years KP753 finally had to abandon her nest to feed herself. In 2008-2009, she met K672 and displayed with her several times that I observed. The following year they had a nest, and each laid an egg. Often the bird who lays the second egg will stay with that one, and the other egg is shoved to the side. They incubated an egg which turned out to be infertile. They were given an egg from the PMRF and raised that chick to fledging. (For those of you who have not read about the PMRF egg swap, please see my December 18th post.)
Last year they abandoned their nest, as did a number of other birds. This year they each laid an egg again. Again the egg they incubated was infertile so they were given a good PMRF egg.
Albatross chicks must beg for food, the parents do not initiate feeding. This may be a way of eliminating chicks that are not strong enough to survive being left on their own for periods between feedings. In this clip you can hear the chick vocalizing as he demands his meal, and pecking at the parent’s bill.