Laysan Albatross Chick Stretches Its Wings

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Laysan Albatross Chick Stretches Its Wings

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Destination: Kauai
Mar 23, 2009

Let’s say you’re an albatross chick.  Consider:  You emerged into this world of greens and blues called Hawai’i in late January.  That makes you almost two months old, which means you’re still a big ball of fluff.  All down. 

It also means your parents are leaving you for longer and longer periods of time.  Minutes.  Hours.  Days.  You sit on your nest and wait for their return.  You don’t dare venture far, because you never know when they’ll pop in for a quick visit–sometimes just a few minutes–with dinner.  And you want dinner.  Fish.  Eggs.  Squid.  Whatever they regurgitate that you can suck from their bill.  You’re always hungry.

There isn’t much to do on your nest.  You get bored.

You sit.  You wait.  You watch the older albatross who have yet to breed dance around you.  They lift their heads to the sky and moo.  They shake their heads.  They clack their bills.  They tuck their heads under their wings.  They roll from the heels of their feet to their toes.  You watch.  And remember.

And because in a few months, you will start running and flapping your wings and launch yourself into the air for your first flight, which will last some four or five years, you stretch your arms.  You flap.  You think about your wings.  Seriously think about your wings.  Then, you do your strength training exercises.  One day, your wings will measure six-plus feet.  They will take you around the ocean, thousands of miles, in search of food and rest and the thrill of flight.  But that’s all a few months away.  Now, your wings look like the arms of the kid who gets picked last in gym class.  They are weak and scrawny.  They couldn’t throw a ball or lift even the smallest bird off the ground in flight.  So, you sit back and wait for your next meal, careful not to expend any energy on anything except growing those wings.  You sit.  And sit.

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