Short-tailed albatross chick gets plenty of love on Midway

First egg hatched outside of Japan in recorded history
January 28, 2011
Midway Island

The stormy weather we've been having has me worrying about an albatross chick that hatched at Midway Atoll this month. All the half-million or so baby birds there have my best wishes, but one tiny fluff ball gets a special aloha. Along with countless people worldwide, I'm rooting for the first short-tailed albatross hatched outside of Japan in recorded history.

Short-tailed is this grand seabird's official name, but its former nickname, golden gooney, paints a more colorful picture. The golden hues of this albatross's head and neck feathers are so shimmery, and the bill is such a delicious pink with a baby blue tip, that the sight of the bird stops you in your tracks.

Literally. These critically endangered albatrosses are so few in number (about 2,400 worldwide) that if workers or visitors on Midway come across one of the one to three short-tails that have visited Midway during breeding season since about 1940, people halt and silently tiptoe backward.

Four years ago two of Midway's short-tailed pioneers finally clicked, and last November (albatrosses don't rush into these lifetime commitments) the couple began incubating their first egg on Midway's 330-acre Eastern Island. The chick's arrival on Jan. 14 has been big news in the world of seabirds.

Read the complete article on this historic event.

Susan Scott
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