Date: 7/13/20 12:09 pm
From: Robert O'Brien <baro...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Laysan, Black-footed & Hybrid Albatross
A worthy tale? Huh? I don't see any tail.

On Mon, Jul 13, 2020 at 11:52 AM Lew & Marti Ligocki <
<ligockibirds...> wrote:

> What wonderful stories! Thank you so much for posting.
> Marti Ligocki
> South Salem
> *From:* Rick Vetter
> *Sent:* Monday, July 13, 2020 11:27 AM
> *To:* <roy.loweiii...>
> *Cc:* Robert O'Brien ; obol ; Matthew O'Brien ; Chris O'Brien
> *Subject:* [obol] Re: Laysan, Black-footed & Hybrid Albatross
> 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...>
> 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...> 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...> 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.
> 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.
> <BFALxLAAL&bandedLAAL.jpg>

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