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Albatross Breeding Season 2015

By: Steve Frailey Thursday August 6, 2015 comments Tags: albatross chicks, albatross hatching, albatross

It’s that time of year again! The albatross are back on Kauai after a 2,000 mile journey across the Pacific Ocean from Alaska. It’s always a very special time of year for us to welcome them back to our beautiful Hawaiian Organic Noni Farm, and we are very excited to announce that they are nesting! We are so glad that our local albatross colony is growing and thriving for another season. They’re an important part of our farm, reminding us of the power of home and family, the rewards of perseverance, and the ability of nature to design amazing things. Every year we look forward to watching the chicks hatch and grow, and we can’t wait to share the experience with you. 

We have 19 nests this year, with lots of eggs waiting to hatch!! This means it will be time for another naming contest for the new albatross chicks.

Previous Winning Names from the Name that Chick Contest were:

  • Albert
  • Abigale
  • Sunshine
  • Moana

We had over 190 names submitted, which make it very difficult to pick a winner.

Everyone in our family gets the list of names to go over by themselves and pick their Top 10. Then we get together to compare lists and try to come to an agreement on the winner. There were so many great names submitted. We want to thank all of you so much for participating in the “Name that Chick Contest.”  If you haven’t heard the news yet, the name we decided on is Blossom!

Here are some fun facts you might not know about our friends the albatross!

  • There are 22 species of albatross- 17 which are globally threatened. The ones who live on our island are Laysan albatross, and have about a six foot wingspan. Some other species have wingspans of over 11 feet!
  • The albatross who nest in our sanctuary here on Kauai travel 2000 miles each way to Alaska, but some albatross have been known to fly up to 5000 miles in a single flight.
  • No one is quite sure how the albatross find their way over the ocean. Somehow, they instinctively know the way back to where they were born.
  • One of the more remarkable characteristics of this bird is its intelligence. Albatross know exactly how to maximize their surrounding conditions to preserve their energy. They are capable of traveling vast distances thanks to their reliance on wind gusts. Instead of feverishly flapping their wings, they glide slightly above the water's surface and drift upward when the time is right. This propels the bird during its downward glide and empowers them to perform an upcoming climb without expending much effort. This unique flying technique generates more speed than would have been created by the bird flapping its wings up and down as fast as it could.
  • Albatross parents provide for only one chick at a time but their offspring rarely perish or suffer in any way. They'll go to great lengths to provide food for their babies, siblings and parents. Most albatross get by on a diet of fish. Some albatross have lived upwards of half a century. That's quite the impressive lifespan for a bird.

You can also check out our YouTube channel for video footage of the albatross on our farm as they nest.  We had a pretty funny albatross related April fools article.

Meet Blossom!

When the chicks hatch, they weigh only about 7 ounces, and they look totally different from their parents. They are covered in fuzzy grey and black baby feathers. The beaks of the chicks are even a different color than the parents’ – gray rather than orange.

The downy feathers will linger for several months as the chicks fledge. When the process is complete, the chicks will have grown into the dramatic black and white coloring of their parents.  The feathers will be sleek, rather than fuzzy, and they will be ready to make their first journey across the ocean, following in their parents footsteps (or wing flaps as it were). It’s hard to believe that the little balls of fuzz we see hatching will be flying all the way to Alaska before they’re even a year old!

Blossom will “fledge” or fly away around July-Aug. She will stand about 3 feet tall with 6 foot wing spans. Albatross chicks “fledge” – which means getting adult feathers and losing baby down – when they are 5 or 6 months old. At that time, each chick will weigh 4 or 5 pounds with adults weighing up to 25 pounds. 

It’s always a bittersweet time of year when the last albatross chick takes wing and begins its journey to Alaska. We hope you’ve enjoyed watching Blossom grow from chick to fledgling this season. We’ve certainly enjoyed photographing and sharing with you. Every year, we continue to be amazed by these incredible birds.

This year’s breeding season has been so much fun, and it’s wonderful to see the colony continues to grow. Every year, the colony of albatross on our land grows by a few more breeding pairs. The well-being of this colony is extremely important to us, and we’re honored to be a part of the preservation effort of these beautiful, intelligent, social birds.

We can hardly wait for winter, when the adults come back to the island, bringing some new adolescents with them!

Steve Frailey

About the Author: Steve Frailey

My wife and I (Steve Frailey) moved to Kauai, Hawaii in 1982 from our organic farm in California. There were no roads, electricity, water or buildings but lots of Noni trees (Morinda Citrifolia) in our valley. We also developed a deep relationship with Noni that was growing all through our valley.  Today we run our Hawaiian Organic Noni farm, and share the gift of health with people throughout the world.