July 2015: Fledging (Page 2 of 2)
7. Two days later, a chick named Nash finds another perfect launching spot by going between two houses near the bluff.
8. Once he arrives, he surveys the water and paces around the launching site. He must have a lot on his mind – flying for the first time, sleeping on the ocean after living on land, finding where he needs to go in this vast ocean, and feeding himself for the first time.
9. Nash makes two attempts to take off, but fails to gain altitude, winding up in the tall grass of the steep slope.
10. Each time, he laboriously works his way through the tall grass back to the top, using his wings to make short hops.
11. After the two failed attempts, he gets ready for his third try.
12. The third time’s a charm. Here he takes a few steps and pushes off from the top of the bluff.
13. He catches some good wind, giving him lift as he starts flying out over the trees in the valley below.
14. He is now in full control. By sheer instinct he knows to fly north where his prime fishing ground will be found. But he will have to cover 600 to 1500 miles to find the right places.
We look forward to seeing Nash back on Kauai in 3 to 4 years. For some fledging years, we see up to 80% of the chicks hatched that year returning. It is remarkable that after 3+ years at sea without touching land, these young adults can find their way back to the very yard where they hatched.
15. Of the 12 chicks hatched in the neighborhood this year, 8 have fledged as of the date for this blog. Weber, the first chick hatched on our property, and several others have left without anyone seeing them go. Next month, we will have photos of the remaining four if we are lucky to see them fledge.
Two of the remaining chicks recently exercised their wings together. In front is Dexter. Behind him is Fern, who was born on our property on February 2nd. We will keep you posted on their progress.