The golf courses are particularly popular with non-nesters, and sometimes I find the chicks there surrounded by adult albatrosses. The adults often fly around the golf course looking for other birds, which are easy to spot on the green lawns. Sunshine is in the most visible nesting area on one of the courses and there have been times when as many as 15 adults were keeping this chick company. Sunshine is used to watching the adults displaying, often just inches away.
Brian Murphy, who named Sunshine and who lives close to the nest, asked me if I had ever seen a chick display; I said no. Mostly the chicks watch the adults and act annoyed when the dancing and clabbering and mooing get too close. Then I watched this video that Brian took of Sunshine and a parent. The parent had recently fed the chick. I do not know if this is a weird way of asking for more, or if Sunshine was getting a jumpstart on adult activities, but everyone who loves albatrosses should watch this behavior. I find the reaction of the parent to be just as entertaining at the dance moves Sunshine executes, especially the head bobbing in time to Sunshine’s moves. It reminds me of someone watching a tennis match. Those of you who are familiar with the courtship display will recognize the classic bill-under-the-armpit-followed-by-the-beak-in-the-air accompanied by the vocalization called a “sky moo.” I have seen chicks do the sky moo before, but never as part of a display. The chicks generally do not make the “moo” sound, but the body movement is the same. The clabbering is also a part of a display, and I do not recall ever watching a chick doing this rapid bill clacking before.
Enjoy the show!