The Big White Birds Are Back.

Laysan albatross in Flight
Laysan Albatross Are Returning to Kauai to Breed.

They. Are. Back.

Along with winter swells and humpback whales, Laysan albatross are returning to Kaua‘i to breed.

Laysan Albatross KP787 Band
My First Laysan Albatross Sighting of the Season.

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.

Laysan albatross UNB
Laysan Albatross Have a Delightful Kind of Charlie Chaplin Walk.

And, so, the new season begins, even though it seems the last chick fledged as recently as a fortnight ago, a single breath in evolutionary time, a folding of days, months, years into one, a phenomenon of time happening more frequently for me as I grow older. I wonder if it’s the same for the albatross. They have a grasp of time, somehow, because the breeders all arrive within a few days of each other.

Laysan albatross KP787
Note the Water Droplet at the Tip of the Bill. It Excretes from the “Tube Nose.”

As other birds complete their breeding season—shearwaters and petrels and tropicbirds—and chicks take to the air for the first time, these big, white birds are taking their place. It’s a lovely co-habitation of place, whereas the shearwaters and petrels scratch out nests in underground burrows and tropicbirds perch in cliffside nooks, albatross simply sit on top of the ground and build nest cups around their big bodies, a mutually-agreeable arrangement of land use worked out, perhaps, millennia ago. Nature is pretty amazing like that. Nature is pretty amazing. Period. On this day in particular, the morning after a hundred people were killed in terrorist acts in Paris, I think we could do well to learn about co-existence from these majestic birds.

4 thoughts on “The Big White Birds Are Back.

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