Hawaiian Petrels: Refugees of the Sea

Hawaiian petrels aren’t the largest seabirds in the ocean. They’re no albatross. But with a three-foot wingspan, they can still cover some ground–er, water. According to the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project, an adult bird will fly over 6,000 miles in a  single foraging trip to provide a meal for its chick. I’d say that’s impressive. I mean, I…

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…

The Big White Birds Are Back.

They. Are. Back. Along with winter swells and humpback whales, Laysan albatross are returning to Kaua‘i to breed. The first I saw was KP787, a band number I recognized immediately, a known nester, presumably a male, because I’m told they arrive first. And, so, the new season begins, even though it seems the last chick…

From Seals to Seabirds.

Yesterday, Kumu Sabra Kauka and her fourth-grade class from a local school gathered along the coastline at Lydgate Park. It was a bluebird sky kind of day. More importantly, we had light trade winds. Winds are important to birds. It’s true my recent 28 days at sea aboard the NOAA research vessel Oscar Elton Sette…

For Laysan Albatross Chick, Independence Day Awaits.

When no witty sentence or meaningful anecdote lies ready at my fingers to write about, I generally turn to one of two things: Setting. Or weather. Today, it’s the weather. It’s hot. For Hawai‘i. Highs in the 90s are expected. Now, I know elsewhere in the world that might be considered a break in the…

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…