I went to check on a nest in an empty lot. In the front yard next door, a scene from the never-ending albatross soap opera was playing out.
Some people see albatrosses as being like perfect little people. They mate for life, they put on elaborate displays with other albatrosses, they take good care of their chicks. There is not much aggression going on in their world, they seem to get along with each other with very few problems. But over the years I have watched many albatross fights. I have seen one albatross flip another off his feet. They chase, they bite, they scream. Sometimes I can feel the tension growing, I can see one albatross staring at another with sudden intensity. At other times, it is a complete surprise when one bird suddenly turns and attacks another.
In this film, an unbanded bird was doing a bit of a friendly bill duel with the bird sitting to the left. A bill duel is often a social introduction, an interaction between albatrosses who do not know each other very well. The bird on the left, K897, seemed larger than the other two birds, so I thought of the group as being composed of a male and two females. I could be wrong, of course. To accurately determine sex, a DNA test must be done.
Another albatross came and sat in the front. She did not seem to know what to do, so she started poking the bird on the left to get his attention. He started looking left and right, trying to figure out what he was supposed to do, who he should interact with. Finally he just got up and walked away. The intruder decided to follow him.
That was too much for the unbanded one.
The bird who was attacked was wearing a yellow leg band, which is not one that is used on Kauai or Oahu. I sent the information to the USGS Bird Banding Lab to see where she was banded. I will post the information.
I have never seen this albatross before. She needs to learn about the social niceties here to avoid another attack. Obeying the rules of albatross ettiquette is an important part of life in any albatross community. It just might save a bird from a thumping.