The Northern Royal Albatross

We are quickly approaching World Albatross Day. That will take place on the 19th of June in New Zealand – it will be the 18th of June in North America.

Just thinking about the albatrosses had me checking on the Royal Cam Princess of 2021, Taiki. She is so sweet. She has been amusing herself and passing the time pulling up the grass around her nest. She seems to like to keep it very tidy.

When Taiki woke up it was a rather rainy and drizzly day.

Rain does not bother the albatross. Except when they are on land breeding, incubating, or feeding their chicks, they are over the ocean. They can go for years without setting foot on land.

Taiki might have been wondering if she was going to have any visitors today and she did. Both of her parents came in to give her really nice feedings.

Lime-Green-Lime, aka Mom came in with a really nice feeding for a very hungry gal today right around lunch time. LGL has been coming in to feed the little princess almost every day. She visited yesterday also. How lucky can a little chick be?

And then another visitor came. It is Lime Green Black, Taiki’s dad. I think – but I could be wrong – that it has been 4 or 5 days since he was in to feed his little chick. Taiki was really excited to see him. Normally LGK spends some time with his chick but today he didn’t. He fed his little one and took off. He missed his mate, LGL, by about ten minutes. While it would have been grand to have seen them together, those skies look like more rain might be coming. LGK knows when he needs to leave! I am told it all depends on the winds!

Taiki seemed pretty happy and settled onto her nest after those two big feedings. I don’t think Northern Albatross chicks have food comas like Ospreys do but I bet she is feeling like taking it easy for awhile. You can see how soft her white down is – she reminds me of cotton candy floss.

Taiki and her parents are Northern Royal Albatross. They are very large seabirds weighing between 6 and 9 kg. From the image of Lime Green Lime you can see that the adult body is white with dark upper wings. They have pink legs and bill. The males are larger than the females. They are considered ‘endangered’.

You can just see Taiki’s black wing feathers coming in under the soft baby down. All of that down will have to be off before Taiki can fledge which normally takes place in September.

The Northern Royal Albatross mates for life. They only breed in New Zealand on the Chatham Islands as well as a tiny colony on Taiaroa Head. That is where Taiki’s nest is. When she is ready to find a mate, she will return to Taiaroa Head. That could be anywhere from four to six years after she fledges. During that time she will never be on land. Sometimes when these juveniles return they have very wonky legs because they are not used to walking.

The Northern Royal albatross feeds in the Southern Ocean, off the Patagonian Shelf near Argentina, and over the continental shelf and divide near Chile when they are not breeding or feeding chicks. Lime Green Lime did have a tracker and it showed that she stayed near Taiaroa Head venturing north.

Sharon Dunne posted the map showing the satellite GPS positioning of both Lime Green Lime (LGL) and Lime Greek Black (LGK) when they were out foraging for Taiki on 17 February 2021 on the Royal Albatross FB Page. The blue is LGK and the red is LGL.

Taiaroa Head is at the bottom. You can see where the lines converge. LGL or Mom no longer has her tracker but LGK does. The parents have travelled tens of thousands of kilometres to catch the squid lunch their little one loves so much!

It is really nice to have such regular feedings for these albatross chicks. The NZ Department of Conservation weighs the chicks and provides supplementary feedings for those that require it. Sometimes parents are late coming in to feed their little ones. Sometimes a parent might not return. It is really hard on one parent to provide enough food. I have always felt that the NZ Government is enlightened in its concern and care for the wildlife.

Thank you so very much for joining me today. Stay safe, stay well!

Thank you to the Cornell Bird Cam and the NZ DOC for their streaming cam where I took my screen shots and to the Royal Albatross FB page where I found the tracking map of Taiki’s parents.

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