Now is the time when we are starting to see the albatross chicks try out those beautiful, big wings, particularly when there are strong winds. I have seen Kirwan practicing a few times, and I do not always carry my camera with me so I do not have an extensive film library of his attempts. But here is a little film I made combining a couple of days of his efforts.
An adult albatross can take off by running and flapping his wings vigorously. A chick flies low, they cannot gain the height needed for sustained flight over land. It will take more experience to strengthen the wings enough for adult flight. That is why they must be near an ocean bluff or on a beach to take off safely. They must fly into the wind, and they will be safe if that wind is blowing off of the ocean. Once over the ocean, they can utilize air currents that will help them remain in the air.
When someone told me that she thought an albatross chick could take off by flying down a hill, I thought of the poor chick who tried that in a greenbelt in Princeville, hit a tree, and broke his wing. These are not experienced flyers, they need all the help they can get. If the hill is overlooking the ocean, great. If there are any obstacles between the chick and the ocean, not so great. And if the breeze is blowing from somewhere that is not safe for an albatross chick, that is potentially the end of a short life.
Glad to see that Kirwan is still doing well. Bet you will be sorry to see him go, in a way, although if he fledges safely, that will be its own reward, won’t it? Have you seen Liho again since you saw him in March? If so, hope he is ok and will be back again next year to find a mate. Thanks for the delightful report, as always. Mona, Dixie, and Janet
I saw Kirwan twice near fairway 15 on the Makai golf course, on March 7th and 9th. Then I got a call on April 13th about an albatross that was having problems walking near condos on the left side of the main road, near the St. Regis Hotel. It was Liho, who was fine, just a bit confused. I had never seen an albatross there before. About 10 minutes later, Liho took off,flying across the street and out over the ocean. The first season an albatross returns to land, I often see them just once or twice. Anyone who checks them once every week or two undoubtedly misses most of them; even checking every day I am sure I miss seeing many of them.
I hope we see him next year!
Thank you for keeping us updated on Kirwan’s efforts, and for educating us on albatross life – they truly have harsh conditions in which to live and fly – and it sounds like lots can go wrong for fledging chicks, and they must have optimum conditions – which makes them all the more remarkable when they succeed. What a great video; Kirwan has grown so much.