Portrait of an albatross dad

In February I posted a video of a very young chick being fed.  The one in the film below is Sammy, who is much older and is rapidly approaching giant sized.  He is being fed by his father,  KP730.

Some of the chicks make begging noises that are much louder than Sammy’s squeaky little vocalizations.  The tapping on the parent’s bill seems to be more likely to inspire the feeding process than the talking is.  A chick who is not strong enough to do this would probably not be able to stand and accept the regurgitated food.

At one time KP730 was called “Tennie” by my neighbor after we saw him attempting to hatch a tennis ball.  Here is a photo of him as he was getting ready to sit on it.  I believe he was speaking to the chick inside.

photo by C Brookman

photo by C Brookman

I wish there were a word like maternal that would also cover the albatross fathers, paternal just doesn’t have quite the same meaning, and parental sounds oddly impersonal.  They spend just as much time as the mothers with the chicks, sometimes even more.  They take the first and longest incubation shift, and they fight the moms for the right to sit on the newly hatched chicks.  They work hard to keep the burgeoning chicks in food.

So here’s to you, KP730, and to all of the other albatross fathers.  The chicks would never survive to adulthood without the hours you spend sitting on the egg in hot sun and pounding rain, flying near and far to search for food, bringing it back and patiently dispensing it, clacking vigorously at all perceived threats, and sometimes just sitting at a distance, so the chick can have the security of seeing you but will start learning to live alone for the next few years.

Stay well, find lots of squid, and raise many more healthy chicks in years to come!

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