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Short-tailed Albatross Fledges at Midway

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  • Steve Hampton
    forwarding this on to CalBirds: *************************************************************************** This is a message from the Pacific Seabird Group
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 20, 2011
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      forwarding this on to CalBirds:

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      Hello everyone,

      Great news from Midway.........

      June 20, 2011

      Contact: John Klavitter, 808-954-4817

      Photos available at
      Video available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_q6avfdDAI

      Short-tailed Albatross Fledges at Midway Atoll National Wildlife
      Endangered Bird’s Departure Carries More Hope for the Species

      (Midway Atoll, HI) With little fanfare, substantial trepidation, and
      of excitement across the Pacific and beyond, the short-tailed albatross

      chick has fledged from the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge within

      the Papahânaumokuâkea Marine National Monument. It happened just as
      followers of the bird’s short life drama expected, the bird slipping
      from the Atoll’s Eastern Island sometime during the day, with no one
      to watch. When the chick first hatched, some experts wondered whether
      parents could find enough food in the warmer and less productive waters
      the Central Pacific to sustain and raise a healthy chick to fledging.
      question has now been answered.

      This stout and amazingly tough chick is the first of its kind to hatch
      now take to the seas from any location other than Japan. After a
      successful courtship over the past four years on Midway, last January
      chick’s parents, an eight year-old female and 24-year-old male, laid
      successfully hatched a whitish egg resembling a miniature football.
      then spent the next five months finding and bringing food to their
      every one to three days. Masters of the wind, they logged tens of
      thousands of miles, soaring between Midway and the nutrient-rich
      grounds some 1,000 miles to the northwest. They foraged, mainly from
      surface, on squid and flying fish eggs that days later they
      to the chick back at the Refuge. In May, after months of steady feeding

      and growth, the chick was losing most of its downy look and began
      stretching and exercising its wings. The health and strength of the
      is a testament to the care and skill of its parents.

      Anticipating its fledging, the chick was banded on June 8. On June 11,

      the bird was seen wandering from its nest area to the shoreline as the

      instinct to fly and paddle out to sea became stronger. It continued to

      walk and flap near the shoreline, as well as paddle in the near-shore
      waters to strengthen its wings and legs. The chick’s first swim in
      ocean lasted 15 minutes. It walked into the lapping waters, paddled out
      meters, submerged its head for a quick look, sipped some sea water, and

      then practiced flapping before paddling back to the shore. The chick
      last seen the evening of June 15. By June 17 it was gone, most likely
      headed in a northwesterly direction to the rich and productive waters
      Hokkaido, Japan, perhaps to join others of its kind.

      “Once one of the world’s rarest birds, the endangered short-tailed

      albatross continues to recover,” said Refuge Manager Sue
      “Sightings of the species have been relatively rare over the years,
      on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. In the years to come,
      this event, perhaps that will start to change.”

      Short-tailed albatrosses depend on the marine resources and habitats of

      the Monument and the North Pacific to survive. They spend seven to nine

      months on the islands to court, reproduce, and nest, and the rest of
      year at sea, resting and spending countless days soaring in search of
      food. The chick will hopefully grow to become an adult, all the while
      refining the skills necessary to live the demanding and fascinating
      of its relatives across the globe. That is, if it is able to avoid
      ingesting too much plastic, getting caught in long-line fishery nets
      marine debris, or being eaten by sharks - hazards faced by every
      in our modern world. This bird, so far, is proving it knows how to

      Fish and Wildlife Service Superintendent Tom Edgerton, one of seven
      co-stewards of the Papahânaumokuâkea Marine National Monument, said of
      fledging, “This event is a milestone in our international efforts to

      expand the range and population of this species. It reminds and brings

      home to us the responsibility we all have, with involvement and support
      the public, to continue to work diligently together, especially for
      species like the albatross that depend heavily on and can’t survive
      without both the land and the sea.”

      Photos and video available at http://www.fws.gov/pacific/t/?id=340.
      Additional points of contact:
      Sue Schulmeister, 808-954-4818
      Tom Edgerton, 808-792-9481

      Papahânaumokuâkea is cooperatively managed to ensure ecological
      and achieve strong, long-term protection and perpetuation of
      Hawaiian Island ecosystems, Native Hawaiian culture, and heritage
      resources for current and future generations. Three co-trustees - the

      Department of Commerce, Department of the Interior, and State of
      Hawai‘i -
      joined by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, protect this special place.
      Papahânaumokuâkea Marine National Monument was inscribed as the first
      mixed (natural and cultural) UNESCO World Heritage Site in the United
      States in July 2010. For more information, please visit

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      Steve Hampton
      Resource Economist
      Office of Spill Prevention and Response
      California Dept of Fish and Game
      PO Box 944209
      Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
      (916) 323-4724 phone
      (916) 324-8829 fax
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