Here is how you can help when you are observing the albatrosses.
Please stay 15 to 20 feet away from them at all times. If you want to spend more than a few minutes photographing them, bring your telephoto lens and stay even further away. Professional photographers are always the easiest people for me to deal with because they want to get photographs of the albatrosses acting naturally, so they have long lenses and stand far enough away from the birds that they are not noticed. When I collect data I do NOT hang out with the albatrosses, I take my notes and go. If something especially interesting is going on, I’ll move further away and watch through binoculars.
Please never handle an albatross. It takes a lot of training to learn how to handle one safely. Call me if you see a chick in an area where you don’t normally see them or if you see a bird that might be injured. If you do not have my number with you, call Princeville Patrol and they will notify me.
If you see any loose dogs near the nesting areas in Princeville, please call Princeville Patrol. The Princeville Community Association has been very supportive of the albatrosses and the Patrol officers are part of the front line of defense of these birds. In addition to pursuing reports of unleashed dogs wandering in the area, they will put cones up near chicks who tend to want to sit right next to the street, they will encourage chicks who sit IN the road to move back to their nesting area, and they will call me if they see an injured bird or a chick that got the urge to fledge and ended up in the wrong place. They have saved the lives of albatrosses through the years!
Remember that most of the nests are in people’s yards, even some of the ones that appear to be on the golf course. How would you like to have strangers walking through YOUR yard? Do not presume that the people who live there want to have you on their property. Also, you are probably getting too close to the birds if you are walking into someone’s yard. If you are in a van tour, please stay in the van. The bigger the group, the further you should stay from the birds.
Never feed an albatross or leave food by a nest. As the chick grows the parents must spend more and more time finding food for him. They have not deserted him. Your food could attract a predator to the nest. In addition, food that has been sitting outside all day may prove to be quite unhealthy for the chick.
Please appreciate these birds and understand that you are very privileged to be able to see them. It bothers me to see parents allowing their children to chase birds, any birds. Their children grow up with a lack of respect for wildlife that is not helpful to them or to the animals who must depend more and more on humans to protect them. I am always delighted to come upon parents teaching their children about the albatrosses in a quiet voice, showing them by example how to behave around the birds. That is the best way to teach them to care about the wild things that add so much grace and beauty to our world.
Inspired by the albatross here in our neighborhood and by your website, we have written and recorded a song with our friend Gary Abrajano, both to say thank you and to help raise further awareness of their continued struggle with the plastic in the ocean issue. Please contact us and we can send you an mp3.
Joe and Linda Bird
Thank you for your work protecting Laysan albatross. Recently I have followed the Cornellab webcam. I’m wondering if any special measures – such as a fence – against predators were taken on Kauai. As a resident of Morgan Hill, CA I’m excited that I no longer have to travel to New Zealand to observe their amazing flight skills I wrote a PhD thesis on albatross flight (dynamic soaring) in 1972.
Best of luck with your admirable work.
Private properties on the ocean bluff are fenced off, but not the whole community of Princeville. We have actually had fewer deaths (by dog or motor vehicle) than some of the large colonies that are fenced, because if a fence is breached, that puts a large group of birds at risk. The birds in Princeville are spread out over residential areas and golf courses, not in one big group.
How do I report an albatross I think may be in danger? Thanks. Tom Brown
Is this a just-in-case question or do you have a specific albatross in mind? If it’s the latter, please tell me more.