Ahhh, the life of the baby Laysan Albatross.
Settled beneath a banana tree, this young sea bird, named Niaulani, currently inhabits the yard of a private home along the north shore of Kauai—one of the oldest Hawaiian islands. Shading its nest are ornamental shrubs and palm trees. Meanwhile, less than 200 feet away there’s a cliff that serves as a launch pad for the albatross parents as they fly to and from the Pacific Ocean. The island nursery may seem stress-free, but the chick must beware of domestic dogs, cats, and rats, all of which regularly prey on young albatrosses.
Raised by both parents, the chick will stay at the nest for a total of about five-and-a-half months before flying toward the Pacific to lead an independent life. Once it takes off, the young albatross will not touch ground again for an incredible three to five years.
Since most of us don't inhabit Kauai, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has created a virtual window through which we can peek at the juvenile albatross before it matures and takes flight. You can even see footage of its first day out of the egg. Updates are also available @AlbatrossCam.
The Cornell folks who are responsible for this live feed have teamed up with Pacific Rim Conservation and the U.S. Geological Survey to get local residents to gather information on how the species uses the island. Last year's cam was a huge hit, drawing attention to the beauty and unique behaviors of these birds and the dangers that they face.
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