They’re back! Each year Hob Osterlund, author of Holy Moli, Albatross and Other Ancestors, has a contest to guess when the first albatross will return to Kauai. This year one eager bird (not the one shown in the photo) was spotted at a Kilauea property on Thursday, November 8th! A second sighting happened at the Kilauea Lighthouse on Friday. That means many more will follow over the next few weeks. We can hardly wait to see who shows up on Kaweonui Road.
Those of you who have been following my blogs know how crazy I am about the Laysan albatross. In fact, if you go to my blog category list you will see that I have already written ten blogs about these birds. Therefore, I won’t go into much detail, here, about what makes these birds so special to me and others on Kauai. You can read about that in my other blogs. But, I did want to share with you a short documentary that Hob Osterlund has created, Kalama’s Journey. She has been working on the footage for this video for a couple of years. Those of you who have been to our vacation rental, Honu Point, will recognize the opening shots.
It is a special time of year for guests staying at Honu Point on Kaweonui Road in Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii. The Laysan albatross chicks who were born in January are very busy practicing to fly. We have ten in the neighborhood and it seems that no matter what time of day you drive by one of them is spreading its wings to test the air flow.
Yesterday I stopped to take three videos. The first two are right from my car as you can tell when the chick decided to check out a piece of frond in the road.
These chicks have stayed very close to their nests for six months with mom and dad flying in to bring them food. The only baby fluff left is on their chest and head. The rest of the body is covered in flight feathers. They have not seen the ocean yet but in a couple of weeks they will find their way to the bluff and take a giant leap of faith. From there they will head out to sea for three to four years, flying about 1000 miles to find and catch their first live food.
To get ready the albatross chick raises and lowers its huge wingspan to test the wind, running down the side of the road. You can see how unsteady they are at this point.
The cutest part is when they start taking little hops to get airborne. Keep in mind that they never actually fly until they jump off the bluff. In years past we have had at least one chick per year jump from our property, Honu Point.
Each albatross chick is banded and, if they stay safe for their years out to sea, they will return to where they were born to find a mate. Our neighbor, Cathy, is compiling a family tree of the birds who have been born and raised in the Kaweonui Road neighborhood since the late seventies. It is always a celebration when one comes “home.”
Vinney fledged from just outside Honu Point’s master bedroom in 2015. An author and neighbor took this great shot. We are waiting for Vinney to come back.
So, if you are visiting Kauai from January to July, be sure to take a drive around Princeville to get an up-close and personal view of these amazing birds. If you are lucky enough to watch one fledge it will be an event to remember, for sure.
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