Monday, December 15, 2008

The Stars of Midway Atoll

By far the Stars of Midway Atoll are the albatross. Both Laysan and the endangered Black-footed Albatross nest and rear their young on the three islands. They literally take over every available inch of ground space. Traveling around the roads in a golf cart can put you into a stand-off with an albatross... luckily they don't seem to find the hard roads as comfortable as the grass, weeds and sand so they rarely stand their ground on the road. There were a few occasions when I had to get out and give a little push to get a stubborn bird to move over.

The courtship dances are amazing to watch. There are a least 25 different moves the birds make when they dance with their mate. The dances of the Black-footed are subtly different from the Laysan. One wrong step and the mate will loose interest so it pays to practice. I saw many groups of non-breeding juveniles dancing together trying to get all the steps down.

The bill clacking and squeaking cry's of the albatross make a wonderful music. I found that I am missing it since I've been home. It's much harder to fall asleep to the sound of cars than it is to the sound of happy albatross.

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