Awaiting Albatross

It’s late October. That means leaves are turning the colors of jewels and carpeting the ground beneath trees in places on the continental United States. In Hawaii, the temperature needle hovers around 70 degrees at night, a cool breeze seeps in from the north, and we pull up the sheet to sleep. This is fall….

How Extreme Birds Inspire Us to be Better Humans

Memorial Day. Graduation. Father’s Day. The solstice. For most people, one of these marks the beginning of summer. For me, these calendar events signal the coming completion of albatross season. Albatross? You mean those big white birds with wingspans longer than I am tall who glide over the surface of the sea as gentle as…

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…

Wet and Wild.

Today is World Wildlife Day, and if you’re wondering, yes, I did spend it with wildlife—as well as, the wild Kapaa traffic, too.

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…

The Many Faces of Laysan Albatross Chicks

You’ve got your Elvis with the long sideburns. You’ve got your classic Bozo. Sometimes, there’s a Mohawk in the crowd. Even a Jarhead. But the goal is a chrome dome, a Telly Savalas. As the longest stretch of time—four months—a Laysan albatross spends on land comes to a close, our chicks are near fledging. Their…

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…