Princeville patriarch returns

I am always so relieved when Joseph, Princeville’s great-grandfather, comes back to Kauai.


He has an interesting history.

Joseph was originally banded as an adult at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, the navy base on Kauai, on March 3, 1989.  The earliest we have had chicks come back to land as adults is at the age of 3, so he was at least 3 years old, which would make him 31 or older today.  He was rebanded with KP505 in 2004.

In 1992, he had a chick, KP465, with an unknown female.  KP465 has raised 7 chicks since the 2005-2006 season, including the father of Phoenix, Joseph’s great-grandchick.

He then raised 3 chicks with KP461:

  • In 2003-2004 they raised KP617, Mystery, who now resides on Midway.
  • In 2004-2005 they raised KP889, Dora, who raised a chick with K229, Larry, a couple of years ago.
  • In 2005-2006 they raised Gator, who helped his mate raise two chicks.

KP461 did not return in the 2006-2007 season, so Joseph found a new mate.

Joseph and KP729 had two chicks.

  • In 2007-2008, their chick died while hatching,
  • In 2008-2009, Obama, K621, fledged successfully, but has not been seen in Princeville since.

I was at Foodland one day in 2009 when my neighbor and fellow albatross observer, Bob Waid, called across to me, “Hey, Cathy, is Obama still here?”

“Yes.  I’m beginning to think he’ll NEVER leave!”

A hush fell over the Foodland crowd.

Joseph and KP729 did not nest in the 2009-2010 season and Joseph began spending a lot of time with KP792.  Some helpful albatross fans suggested that Joseph had dyslexia, and just mixed their band numbers up.

Joseph and K792 had 2 chicks.

  • In 2010-2011 K848, Coconut, hatched in a nest under a coconut palm.
  • In 2012-2013, they raised Lanea, A496.

KP792 did not return in the 2013-2014 season.  Joseph made a simple nest in the bushes he prefers.  Various albatrosses came by and did little displays with him in the nest.  It seemed to this observer that he was auditioning females to be his new mate.  His former mate, KP729 came by, and he chased her away.

Joseph started spending quality time with K065.

Joseph and K065 had 2 chicks.

  • in 2014-2015, they raised Joy, H090.
  • In 2015-2016, they had Peace, H224.

K065 did not return to Princeville during the 2016-2017 season.

During that season, he met Elaine, who had raised 8 chicks with her previous mate.  Elaine and her mate nested year after year at Dragon House, down the street from Joseph’s favorite yard.  Elaine’s mate had disappeared during the 2015-2016 season, leaving Elaine to incubate their egg from December 27th until the chick hatched on February 5th.  The little chick died shortly after hatching.

If I ran a dating service for albatrosses, Elaine is the one I would have picked for Joseph, and Joseph is the one I would have picked for Elaine.  They both take parenting very seriously, and both lost their mates.  When one member of a couple that has a pattern of nesting together in the same area year after year does not return, I assume that individual has died.  They are so programmed to return to each other, either to nest or to renew their bond so they can nest the following year.

When I see Elaine, I will post that information for all of the Joseph and Dragon House fans out there.  I know the readers of this blog get attached to particular albatrosses, and I am happy to encourage their devotion.

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3 Responses to Princeville patriarch returns

  1. Oh Cathy, how amazing to read all this history. Mahalo for such a detailed and interesting post. I do hope Joseph and Elaine ‘get it on’ this year! 😎

  2. wow – how sad so many die and do not return. what a fascinating history of Joseph – some happy and some sad. i had no idea albatrosses could live so long. i always feel a little sad when i read they chase off former mates… but then people do so much worse. I hope Joseph and Elaine hook up and have some chicks to raise. Your lovingly detailed accounts are so appreciated.

  3. tradewindsla says:

    Thank you both for your comments! I love this time of year, but it also scares me to think that some of my birds will not return. That is why it is so exciting to see Joseph again. I will certainly let everyone know when Elaine comes back!

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