Sunday, June 13, 2010

He prayeth well...

He prayeth well
who loveth well
both man and bird and beast...

I went to check 
on the albatross chicks
First this one
with a mane of feathers
like the wig of a court judge

and further along
I found this watchful chick
- only the two remain in this bluff area

do you remember 
how they looked back in February
so fluffy and small..(above)

We were asking a
how often the parents returned 
to feed the chicks

when from the cliff bluff block
exited a parent
with her ungainly waddle
she drunkenly lurched
across the road

gave a sort of call

and made her way towards 
the first of the chicks
who peered out from behind the tree
in hungry anticipation

she eyed the chick
clacked her beak
like a set of castenets
and rapped the chick 
over the head

uh oh, I thought
wrong chick
but I was wrong
This must be the traditional 
 albatross way to greet
one's young

so she set to
and regurgitated
eggs of the flying fish
plus stomach oil
for her youngster's dinner

The albatross nests in October
and spends a year raising the single chick
both mum and dad
sharing the duties of parenthood
they return every few weeks
to feed the chick

Give me more...

The chick will grow heavier than the parents
using the reserves 
to build body condition 
and growing flight feathers
in preparation for fledging
They fledge on their own
with no help from the parents
who will return to the nest 
and not even know the chick has left...

The chick has innate migratory behaviour
genetically coded navigation routes
which help him 
when he first sets sail
in the big wide world

Not now...I need a rest...

this one is a Laysan Albatross
with pink feet and pink bill
Another species,
the black footed albatross
the Ka'upu
also lives in Hawaii

The Albatross is pelargic
which means open oceaned.
Sailors have always regarded the albatross 
as a good luck sign
convinced that land was near
This is something of a myth
as the albatross can spend 
up to five years at sea
never touching land

He mates for life
and can live for 50 years
While awkward on land
and having difficulty
in taking off and landing
the albatross is graceful 
and impressive in flight

So well designed is he
that he can travel for miles 
without flapping his wings
and he sleeps 
while coasting along on the winds.

The information I read 
stated that he can travel 
2000 miles a day
in search of food.
That is 83 miles per hour

Is that possible?


  1. Hi Indi
    thank you for calling by...Unfortunately I can't read your blog...

    Happy days

  2. Hello Delwyn

    What wonderful information--thanks for sharing!

    I appreciate your note and everything is going fine-I am right on track with everything and I am so happy.

    Tracy :)

  3. A lost at sea sailor's faith being restored by seeing an Albatross has been a familiar scene in movies, but I had no idea they could stay in flight for 5 years!

    There's a touch of sad aloneness in that fact and the fledging of their young, on their own is sadder...but understandable, I guess...preparing them for such a life!


  4. How interesting. The fluffy feathers do look like the wig of a British judge. You are a veritable encyclopedia Delwyn!

  5. The lines from Coleridge's poem bring back memories of this haunting piece. These are fascinating details and photos about the albatross!

  6. amazing stuff, and poetically told. I don't know how all these birds can do the things they do!

  7. That's just amazing. five years at sea and never touching land! sleeping while gliding. thanks Delwyn, I had no idea. And the pictures are wonderful.

  8. Such a challenge to really love both man and bird and beast. Your post helped us toward that goal. Thanks.

  9. what an amazing bird! thank you for the wonderful photos!

  10. Hi Bloggers

    I am sorry but I am putting on the word verification process for a short while. The pharmaceutical spammer is giving me grief...

  11. Very interesting photos--the fact that the young one is actually as big or bigger than the parents, the "love taps"--& 2,000 miles a day--amazing.

  12. Hi Delwyn, An informative post - I've been interested in the albatross since my college Coleridge days! I even learned a new term from you: "pelargic"
    It's fascinating to think that they mate for life and can live 50 years while spending so much time in the air and at sea. No wonder Evolution has spared them.

  13. Wow! What amazing little creatures. Five years is a long time time to be off the earth's surface. A combination of strength and aerodynamics, perhaps? Incredible!

  14. Fascinating! Who knew? I've never given the albatross any attention and don't remember ever having seen one but I suspect if I were lost at sea I'd appreciate the encouragement, even though false. What an interesting post.

  15. Thanks for this informative and fascinating post. I feel very warm toward the albatross family now and look forward to more about their adventures!

  16. Hi, Delwyn—

    Fascinating post as usual. Their lives do seem terribly lonely to me. I wonder how life looks to an albatross.

    As for the 2,000 miles per day: my guess is that the figure got an extra zero tacked on. I would think 200 miles per day would be more like it. That's still a LOT of flying in 24 hours, given s/he presumably lands on the water from time to time to eat. Most birds fly in the 10 to 20 mph range. A big non-flapping albatross probably flies about, what, 12? miles per hour? About that.

    No need to apologize for the word verification. I had to do the same thing. One day I was hit with a ton of spam comments. I understand.

  17. Fascinating!

    A chick like that must be an albatross around the parent's neck. I can't think albatross without remembering the Rhyme of The Ancient Mariner. What a crime to kill such a bird as that.

  18. They are such funny looking birds, eh? The pics of your new 'hood are unbelievable. Wow.

    Thanks for taking us out of our mundane realities into these gorgeous, exotic terrains.

  19. Thanks for the info. I'm amazed that they are living so happily in an urban environment - amongst people and houses. It must give you great joy to watch the progress of the litle one.

  20. Wow, it's like reading a little story, almost fairy tale with all the magic facts - thank you for sharing your knowledge and great photos!

  21. This was so interesting. I didn't know about the albatross and their family habits. So sweet...and a little like humans, too. You captured some wonderful photos!

  22. Amazing post and photos- thank you! I do love the chicks- they are most impressive as well as the ability to fly 83 miles an hour????WOW!

  23. A Welcome to Indi, Linda Sue, iHanna, Louly

    and a big thank you for all of your comments...

    Tracy, I'm glad you are in such fine spirits.

    Wanda, I imagine it it done that way to make the chick hungry enough to try to fly...


    I liked that word too, though I would never be a pelargic traveller...

    Dan, I would think you are right there, otherwise they would be travelling like a speeding car, just a flash...

    Sarah...funny girl...I always think of the poem too, hence the title...

    Hi Noela
    there was an article in the paper the day after I wrote my story. The chick is called Stacey and the house owner hoses her down each day...The parents have used his front yard as a breeding spot for many years.

    Happy days all

  24. Fascinating post, Delwyn! The albatross chick is quite comical but awesome at the same time. :o)

  25. This is an absolutely amazing post. Watching an albatross feed its chick is surely not a common occurrence? How come they let you get close enough for these pictures?

    How could you possibly ever get bored.

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