Date: 7/13/20 11:50 am
From: Alan Contreras <acontrer56...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Laysan, Black-footed & Hybrid Albatross
A worthy tale !


Alan Contreras
<acontrer56...>
Eugene, Oregon

www.alanlcontreras.com


> On Jul 13, 2020, at 11:27 AM, Rick Vetter <cotingas...> wrote:
>
> This discussion takes us back to French Frigate Shoals 500 mi NW of Hawaii, where we studied seabirds, seals, green sea turtles and tiger sharks for two years, 1985-1987 on a small island. We banded thousands of Black-footed and Laysan Albatross.
>
> No mist net required for any of the seabirds, just put a string of 100 bands around your neck and take a short hike. If you walked more than 4500 feet in a straight line you were looking for shark fins instead of bird legs!
>
> We had two albatross hybrids that returned every October. They looked more like Roy’s black footed variety. They were banded. (Not sure if we banded them or someone else.) Will have to look at old banding records. Photos and maybe a video would take some effort to find but they looked similar to Roy’s nice photographs.
>
> What we do remember is the bizarre courtship dance that the hybrids would perform with a “pure” BFAL or LAAL.
>
> Eventually the non hybrids would break off the dance, noticing that the hybrid albatross dance was off tempo a bit. Bill clapping, sky calling and tempo were off cue.
>
> The unfortunate hybrid would wander around the island searching for a committed dance partner, open to a new dance, never to be found.
>
> We tried to entertain them and then they got to break off the dance! You should see me dance, even my wife looks for a new partner after a few minutes !
>
> Love those birds. I remember we would have to move the simple nest, (a scrape in the coral sand) once in awhile to dig up an electrical line and the birds would oblige if we moved it less than 1 foot per day. We had to plan projects accordingly.
>
> And the last albatross story is really sad with somewhat of a happy ending.
>
> Several 45 foot waves hit the reef one winter (from a BIG storm in the Bering sea several thousand miles away) and the after-swells went over the island ( 6 feet above sea level) burying some albatross up to their neck. We watched from the rooftop of elevated cement buildings as waves rushed under the buildings and washed away most of the eggs on the island.
>
> We salvaged as many eggs as we could the next day. About 55 were placed on heating pads for about 24 hours. They were quickly reintroduced to adults after the storm. It was a clear sky, no wind and a glassy ocean storm with incredible waves !
>
> BFAL almost took the egg out of our hand before we could place it on the ground. We had to protect the egg so they would not accidentally break it on the delivery. Laysans had to be picked up and placed on the egg!
>
> Eggs between the two species were indistinguishable thus we had to switch some chicks at hatching between some parents of BFAL and LAAL. (55 days incubation period)
>
> By coincidence we had the same amount of mismatched chicks between species to switch between puzzled parents, thus all chicks ended up with correct adult species but most likely not the original parents.
>
> We remember some albatross trying to incubate anything that looked like an egg after the storm, from small glass fishing net floats to tennis balls.
>
> The mournful wails of adult albatross looking for lost eggs went on for a few days.
>
> The island was buried in loose coral, fish, eels and even lobster. It took a few days to clear the runway for the next supply flight. A rescue was called off as the stormed subsided quickly and we had enough beer, wine and sunscreen for another week!
>
>
> Cheers
>
> Rick Vetter and Joan Suther
>
> Sent from my iPhone
> Rick Vetter <cotingas...> <mailto:<cotingas...>
> Phone 541-589-2230
> “Even the worst handwritten notes are better than the best memory or technology”
> Sergej Postupalsky, eagle researcher
>
> On Jul 12, 2020, at 3:25 PM, Roy Lowe <roy.loweiii...> <mailto:<roy.loweiii...>> wrote:
>
>> Bob et al
>>
>> After putting on my thinking cap (I had to hunt for it) I remembered that on my last trip to Midway Atoll I took photos with a point & shoot digital camera and I found the photos. Attached are images of 3 hybrids. The fist one is walking like a black-footed and note it is banded. The second one on the nest was also banded and the third bird never got up from the nest so I don’t know if it was banded. It would have been interesting to capture the two banded birds and see how they were reported to the BBL. The third bird looks pretty much like an Laysan except for the scalloped feather pattern and I’m not sure if it is a hybrid or something else is going on. A beautiful bird nonetheless.
>>
>> Roy Lowe
>> Waldport, OR
>>
>>> On Jul 12, 2020, at 1:36 PM, Robert O'Brien <baro...> <mailto:<baro...>> wrote:
>>>
>>> A recent discussion of a mystery Storm Petrel developed a side feature concerning the distribution of these two albatrosses off of Oregon and the
>>> West Coast of the US and Mexico. Roy listed the total populations and said he had seen 10 or so hybrids among 100,000s of thousands near their
>>> Hawaiian breeding colonies.
>>> So, I searched through my photos and came up with a long-ago photo of a hybrid I had photographed off of Oregon in 1992.
>>> Along with this I have included a photo of a different one that I received from the well-known Seabirder Michael Force about that time.
>>> The one I photographed could have been a back-cross with Black-footed. What do people think?
>>>
>>> Also included is a Laysan I photographed in Monterey Bay in Aug 2010. This is from the fairly new Mexican colony, the first in North America. What a lucky shot that one was.
>>> I saw the band only after I had reviewed the photos. As I've said before. Shoot first, ask questions later.
>>> Bob OBrien Carver OR
>>>
>>> PS After finding my photo it was natural to search eBird for records of this hybrid off of the US and Mexican West Coast and I only found two..
>>> Hee hee, check this one out by an enterprising, quite young, Oregon birder; later to gain considerable fame. https://ebird.org/checklist/S32390749 <https://ebird.org/checklist/S32390749>
>>> It's a small birders' world and getting smaller all the time.
>>>
>>> PPS The other 'record', off of San Francisco is a little puzzling. A photo is mentioned but none is present and there is no documentation for an apparently quite rare hybrid.
>>> https://ebird.org/checklist/S38088639 <https://ebird.org/checklist/S38088639><BFALxLAAL&bandedLAAL.jpg>
>> <Number 1.jpg>
>>
>> <Number 2.jpg>
>>
>> <Number3.jpg>


 
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