We’re thrilled to launch our newest addition to our Bird Cams project: a Laysan Albatross nest on the island of Kauai, Hawaii. These majestic birds spend almost their entire lives at sea, plying the wind to travel from the Tropics to Alaska and back in a matter of mere days. These birds live incredibly long lives (a Laysan Albatross named Wisdom is still alive and caring for young right now at the age of 63), and they tend to form long-lasting bonds with their mates.
One reason for those long pair bonds is how much work and coordination it takes to raise a chick. It’s no small task: the hatchlings weigh less than a glass of water, and they’ll eventually grow into an 8-to-10-pound bird with a 7-foot wingspan. To make it work, Laysan Albatrosses have to start nesting in November. They incubate their egg for a full two months, and then spend almost six months bringing meals of digested squid and rich, fishy stomach oil to their chick.
Last week, our Bird Cams team visited Kauai to install a high-definition camera near a Laysan Albatross nest at a private residence. As we were finishing up and heading back home, the egg began to hatch, and by Monday there was a small, gray-and-blond chick taking its first gulps of air. Check out the video above to witness the youngster’s first meal.
The camera can pan, tilt, and zoom to capture incredible details of the birds’ amazing plumage—including the soft, almost airbrushed shading of the adults’ faces, the delicate orange and blue tones of their bills, and the frizzy down of the chick. Yesterday, the mother, named Kaluahine by a native Hawaiian teacher, changed places with the father, Kaluakane, after 11 straight days on the nest. Kaluakane promptly regurgitated some solid food to the chick (named Kaloakulua) and settled down to watch over it.
We hope you’ll join us as we watch this chick grow and develop over the next months. Share your observations with us on Twitter at @albatrosscam and contribute screenshots at our Flickr group. You’ll also find answers to many of your questions in our All About Birds Laysan Albatross species account and on our albatross nest FAQ.