Holy Mōlī: Albatross and Other Ancestors

In the days before Cook introduced Hawai‘i to the world and an onslaught of foreigners arrived. Back in the days before the old religion was abolished and missionaries arrived on scene. I’ve read that winged creatures represented messengers of the gods, because, unlike mere humans, birds can fly to great lengths and heights. Places far…

What Is An Albatross?[1]

  al Ÿ ba Ÿ tross \ ‘albeŸtros\ n : any of a number of large web-footed seabirds that are related to the petrels, that form a family (Diomedeidae) of the order Procellariiformes, and that include the largest of seabirds, being capable of long-continued flight and often appearing at great distances from land chiefly over…

The Art of Taking Off.

Today was the annual Christmas Bird Count in Hawaii. I’ve participated in a few of these over the years but never in Hanalei Valley where I was stationed today. As you may know, the event is hosted by the Audubon Society, getting its start in 1900 during the early days of the conservation movement. Because…

Mark Twain: My Albatross.

The oldest known, living wild bird in the world is a Laysan albatross, at 64 years of age. She showed up recently at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, just in time for the breeding season. There are more photos here, if your voyeuristic nature is piqued, of what happens when she and her mate see each…

Two Ways To Fledge

Today, we said goodbye to the Laysan albatross chick featured on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology webcam for the past five months as she took to the air for the very first time. Just after sunrise, Niaulani hopped atop a rock wall, flapped her wings really hard, and stepped off a cliff, taking a leap…

Laysan Albatross Chicks: What’s In a Bolus?

On World Oceans Day earlier this week, I surveyed a colony of Laysan albatross chicks, mere weeks away from fledging. It was a clear day with bluebird blue skies and the slightest whisper of wind disrupting the lazy leaves of ironwood trees. But the chicks didn’t let the lack of air movement deter them. Many…

Celebrate Oceans. Refuse Plastic.

Beach finds last week: Plastic toothbrush; plastic baby powder bottle; plastic hagfish (eel) trap; plastic coat hanger; and a sundry of unidentifiable bits and chunks of plastic in a rainbow of colors—none of it left behind by beach-goers but based on its snagged and worn condition, arrived by water. I imagine a fisherman up early,…