Last winter, on a bluff on Kauai’s North Shore, a bird hatched one January day and quickly became an Internet celebrity. She was named Kaloakulua, and nearly two million viewers watched from the comforts of their electronic screens across 195 countries as “KK” ate her first meal of regurgitated squid; took her first steps on oversized, paddle-like feet; made friends with a common chicken; and five and a half months later, leapt from a cliff 250 feet above the ocean and winged her way out of sight over the far horizon, where she will make her home for the next three to five years before touching land again.
Yesterday, another Laysan albatross chick hatched live on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology #albatrosscam. Hawaiian cultural practitioner Sam Ohu Gon III provided the chick with the name of Niaulani. “Niau” translates from Hawaiian to English as “moving smoothly, swiftly, silently, peacefully; and “lani” translates to exalted, sky, heavens. An appropriate name for a bird that will accumulate 3.7 million air miles in the course of a 50+ year life. She’s begged her way to her first meal–while still sitting in her egg.
I’d never been much of a birder. That is, until I met my first Laysan albatross.
For the next five months, you’ll find me planted in front of my new MacBook Air, my iPad, or my iPhone watching Niau (knee-ow) grow up. I invite you to join me.