I am happy to report that our last Princeville chick has fledged, as of August 13th. He was observed the day before trying out his wings and gaining some altitude as he attempted short flights. Of course everyone in Princeville is pleased that he is beginning his new life at sea, but we will also miss seeing these guys for three long months.
This year the chicks here had the advantage of strong ocean breezes to fly into. These winds directed them to the ocean and gave them the lift they needed to take that first flight from an ocean bluff. When they get the urge to fledge, they go. On a still day they may walk across golf courses, down busy roads, into people’s garages, anywhere. But this was a good year for flying towards the ocean and then jumping off cliffs, the way they did before people arrived here and started putting up obstacles in their paths.
There are people who think it would be nice to have albatrosses on their property, who may not understand how inappropriate the location is. I hope that every reader of this blog by now understands that albatross habitat:
1. Should include an ocean bluff. This is absolutely necessary for fledging from anywhere that is not like Midway, which is at sea level and surrounded by ocean. It also requires less energy from adults when they are taking off on a day with no breezes.
2. Should be properly fenced. An expert must be consulted for the correct type of fencing. Obviously, the side on the ocean bluff must be placed in an area that will allow chicks to fledge without having to fly up over a big fence, while protecting them from predators like dogs. When they take that first flight, they do not usually fly vertically as much as they do horizontally.
3. Should not be privately owned. For birds that will seek to return to the area where they last nested or where they fledged from, this is the only way to guarantee that their habitat will always be safe. If someone wants to put their ocean bluff land into a conservation trust so it will always be available for albatross nesting, then they are showing that they want to want to ensure the future safety of the albatrosses; they are to be commended for their concern.
Thank you for caring about the Laysan albatrosses on Kauai. I am not quite done with my blog, I am working on a list of questions I would love to get answers for during the next season. Every year brings some answers but also many more questions to ponder in the future.