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Laysan Albatross

Laysan Albatross

You might not know that Point Arena Cove is a destination point for birders from around the country. I met a couple from Wisconsin at the end of the pier with their spotting scope. They were looking for Alby, the Laysan Albatross, who has spent his or her winters there since 1994. Many birders keep a life list of all the species of birds they have seen in their lives. Alby provides a rare opportunity for birders because albatrosses are rarely seen from shore.

They are huge birds with wingspans of six and a half feet which spend most of their lives gliding over the ocean. They even sleep while gliding. They feed mainly on squid that come to the surface at night.

The albatrosses come to land only every other year, to nest on remote islands. They are thought to mate for life. She lays only one egg; they care for their young for at least five months. They are known to live for over forty years. So Alby, or Big Al, as itís also called, is definitely its bird.

Records of his or her arrival and departure dates have been kept since 1994. This albatross usually showing up at the end of November and departing by mid-March. Big Al is super friendly. As surfers paddle out to the point, Big Al will paddle over to them squawking and allow them to pet him or her. So head on out to the cove to add a Laysan Albatross to your list.

First published MCAS The Whistling Swan February 2011
Laysan Albatross by Donald shephard

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