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…

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…

Seven Things Laysan Albatross Teach Us About Love.

Laysan albatross are the kind of bird with which we fall in love. They possess faces made from the strokes of an artist’s paint brush. They glide with their six-foot wings stretched taut and swoop in gentle arcs up and over ocean waves. Laysan albatross are the kind of birds that make us humans long for wings…

#AlbatrossCam: The Internet’s Latest Reality Show.

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…

One Albatross to Another: “Same time next year.”

Laysan albatrosses don’t roam the wide seas of the Pacific Ocean in flocks. They don’t even forage for flying fish and squid with their mates. What it comes down to is Laysan albatrosses travel through their watery world solo. That’s why they’re known as synchronous nesters. I counted 28 Laysan albatrosses on my survey this…

Do These Pants Make Me Fit In?

The ornithologist and I picked our way across a knife-edge ridge high on a Kauai mountain. We were here looking for the nesting site of a rare and endangered bird—the Newell’s shearwater. Due to development and cats and rats and barn owls and a host of other threats, the total population of this particular species…