We now have 20 chicks hatched, with 8 fertile eggs left to hatch. Check out the DOC live webcam to watch an albatross chick at it's nest for the next 8 months.
Here is our media release for the first chick hatched...
The first chick of the 2015/16 breeding season for the Northern Royal Albatross Colony at Taiaroa Head/Pukekura on Otago Peninsula in Dunedin was welcomed on 14th January 2016.
Summer heat during January and February is expected to be a challenge for the nesting adults and young chicks as overheating and fly strike can cause mortality.
Mayor of Dunedin, Dave Cull, says "The City is thrilled to welcome 2016's first Royal Albatross chick. It's so important to us, as the wildlife capital of New Zealand, to support conservation of the world's only mainland Royal Albatross breeding colony. As well as the benefits for the endangered albatross population, they are a great symbol for the city, and Dunedin is fortunate to host such good breeding colonies of many wildlife species”.
Otago Peninsula Trust General Manager Robyn McDonald comments “This is a great time to visit the colony as there are several nests within view of our exclusive viewing observatory on the nature reserve. The chicks are eagerly awaited by all our team who love the birds; our team enjoys sharing the exhilaration of seeing awesome albatross with visitors who come from around the world to see our unique site”.
“Of course, there are concerns about the forecast hot summer and the effect it has on albatross chicks. The Trust, which runs the Royal Albatross Centre, works closely with the Department of Conservation (DOC) which manages the albatross colony reserve. All the extra work involved with looking after albatross in hot weather also puts pressure on the Trust. So the Trust has set up a Givealittle fundraiser to help with extra costs such as trucking in water for the colony’s sprinkler system to keep albatross and chicks cool on blistering hot days.”
DOC Coastal Otago Operations Manager, Annie Wallace, says “We are pleased to welcome the first chick this year. This is likely to be a particularly challenging season given the El Nino conditions we are experiencing. The lower rainfall and higher temperatures increase the likelihood of birds overheating on the nest.”
“We appreciate the help of Otago Peninsula Trust who have been committed partners for many years,” she said.
DOC rangers have long hours ahead in the next few weeks, checking the chicks several times a day to ensure they avoid fly strike and are adequately fed during the critical first 48 hours after cracking the shell.
Endangered Northern Royal Albatross have been successfully breeding at Pukekura since 1938, when the first chick was fledged. This season, 30 nests are dotted around the nature reserve. 29 of these nests are fertile with one couple nurturing a foster egg. The 30th nest has been provided with a dummy egg to give the parents practice at nesting and to provide a back-up if a nest fails. The 2014/15 breeding season was the second most successful season on record, with 26 chicks raised. The colony is home to around 220 albatrosses whom, once mature, breed every two years.
125 albatrosses have been spotted this season since September with five birds returning for the first time. The five newly returning birds will not have touched land for over five years until their return to Pukekura for breeding. This season they are seen displaying adolescent behaviours including partying, courting, display flying with a few hijinks thrown in.