All of the people mentioned here are included in my “Thanks to…” section.
Since the albatrosses in Princeville live in people’s yards and on golf courses, not quite their natural habitat, I am called upon to do more than just collect data.
When it is time for chicks to fledge from this area they do not always know where to go. On Midway the albatross nests are on ground not much above sea level, surrounded by an ocean that is clearly visible. On Kauai’i they live atop ocean bluffs, and the ones in Princeville often build their nests out of sight of the ocean. They generally fly into the wind, and unfortunately that may not be a wind that will lead them through a residential area to a safe fledging spot. The chicks cannot get the same lift the adults can get by running down a street and flapping their wings, they need the updraft provided by a wind. They may need some help getting to a safe fledging spot, one where they can run into the wind unimpeded by obstacles and fly out over the ocean.
– One chick left his residential neighborhood, walked and/or flew across the Prince golf course, walked down a busy road bordered by condos and ended up at the lobby door of the Westin Hotel.
– A chick walked down my road to a private park surrounded by houses, some with dogs in the back yards. When I got there he was sitting on a roof, which he ended up sliding down. I took him to a safe spot to fledge.
– A chick in a golf course nest with a view of the ocean bluff flew in the wrong direction and ended up a few streets away. A concerned tourist told me about him when he saw me bringing a chick to a safe fledging spot, so I took this bird to the same place.
– Vacationers renting a house near an open bluff where I have brought chicks to fledge told me that they had seen a chick walk across their lawn, down into dense shrubbery leading to a small inlet between my neighborhood and the Cliffs condos. Marilou Knight tried to climb down into the brush but it was too dense for her to get very far. We both hoped the chick would somehow get down to the ocean and possibly fledge the way the Midway chicks do, out over the ocean. By the process of elimination I figured out that the chick was Niko, a big, healthy bird. Two days later I got a phone call from the same visitors telling me that there was an albatross across the inlet on a cliff below the Cliffs condos. Bob Waid and I drove over there. It was Niko! He had lost most of the baby fluff from his head and was trying to fledge from an area with no wind, so I picked him up and Bob drove us to the good fledging area the chick had walked by two days earlier. Niko didn’t even stop to rest; with the first big gust of wind he was gone.
– A chick flew into a green belt where a resident found him sitting on the ground in obvious distress. His wing was broken, he may have hit a tree. He had to be euthanized.
If I come across any other potential problems I figure out the best way to handle them.
Some problems I have encountered:
– If a loose dog is threatening albatrosses and/or nenes I call the Princeville Patrol and I urge other people in Princeville to do the same.
– Last year a chick decided to sit on the golf cart path. I moved him to a safe spot, he moved back to the golf path. I bought materials for a small fence to be built to keep him safely on the grass. John Bowen built that fence, but now that my volunteering falls under the state’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife, I will call Thomas Kaiakapu the Wildlife Manager, who offered to help if we ever need another fence.
– A resident called to tell me that an albatross had kicked the egg out of her nest and was making no attempt to sit on it or move it back. Albatrosses have high nest fidelity, they will sit in the nest no matter what. They will NOT follow the egg if it falls out of the nest. I had to move the egg back under the parent. If you ever see an egg that may have rolled out of the nest, please call me. Do not attempt to put it back, you could be bitten and the egg could be harmed.
– Sometimes when Kaua’i has been experiencing torrential rain, nests that are not ideally situated may be in danger of submersion. Some nests may just need a canal built nearby that will draw the rainwater away. Some nests may need building up. Again, please call me if you see a possible problem.
– Food left by a nest? When someone leaves food for an albatross, they are usually trying to do something good for the birds. I remove the food and leave a sign telling them that the food may attract predators to the nest and to the bird. Sometimes people decide that a chick is not being fed because they have not seen the parents in a long time. As the season progresses, parents spend less and less time at the nest site. Even though I am checking the nests every day, I consider myself lucky if I see one of the parents.