Maluhia hatched in a nest on the golf course in 2008. His father had separated from his long-time mate and had this one chick with a different female. The following year, he went back to the previous mate. Yes, they really are more interesting than most people give them credit for.
Maluhia means peacefulness. Somehow, that word does not describe this albatross.
He first came back when he was 4. For the first couple of years, he spent some of his time on the part of the golf course where his nest was located, and some on a different part where he now spends all of his time on land. In the 2013-2014 season, his personality asserted itself in a big way. I would always find him within about 20 feet of where his nest is now located. There was a chick in that area, and Maluhia took it upon himself to defend the little one from all intruders, especially me. All comers were greeted with ferocious clacking. The first time I saw him there I assumed he was a parent protecting his chick from evildoers.
First rule of albatross observation: DO NOT ASSUME!
Maluhia took this role on with no prospect of compensation. He is no relation to the chick, so he is not saving any of his family genes. And he would probably have to clear out when one of the chick’s parents returned to feed him. So why was he taking on the role of Fearless Protector?
Moreover, the following season he protected the same couple’s chick, in that same general area. They could not have asked for a better babysitter.
This season, Maluhia and his mate welcomed the last chick to hatch in Princeville. When I checked the nest a couple of days ago, it was delightful to see the squiggling bundle of feathers squished beneath him . I did not get close to them, but I still got the Clackmaster treatment. He did not go on as long as usual because he was carefully watching his new bundle of joy. The nest is in a good spot. A tree shields it from anyone passing by on the golf cart path. It is close to the takeoff course used by all of the adult albatrosses, and fledging should be almost effortless. This first flight will be largely facilitated by the onshore ocean breezes, which also help to protect chicks from the mosquitoes that carry avian pox.
May Maluhia and his mate raise many more chicks in years to come.
May all of the albatross parents find enough good food to keep their chicks healthy and happy.