5.  Raising the Young

 

After a chick has hatched, the proud parents continue alternating trips to find food.  During the first two weeks after hatching, one mate remains with the chick at all times, keeping it warm and dry by covering it the same as the incubating egg.  The returning parent feeds the chick with regurgitated food which has been broken down in the stomach to provide nutrients and water. The chick's sole source for water is the desalinated water from the fish ingested by the parent.

At the three week point, the chick usually is too large to be covered by the parent  The chick is now left alone while both parents hunt for food.  One generally returns to feed every 5-7 days.  When the chicks are left alone, they look vulnerable.  Many people are concerned about this "abandonment".  Actually, this is very natural.  The chicks are not in danger. 

Under no circumstances should the chicks be fed anything.  Well-meaning people want to take care of the chicks.  However, being seabirds, the young albatross cannot eat people food.  Unfortunately, food laying near the chicks can draw vermin and ants into the area.

During the next four months (March through June), the young will grow to full adult size, eventually having a wing span of 6 feet.  it's hard to think of a bird this size as a "chick".  However, it is still being fed by the parents on a regular basis.  To raise a chick, we estimate the parents will have made 25-30 trips, travelling 60,000 miles in a single season.

While growing up, the young pass through several stages from fuzzy balls to gangling "teenages".  Below is a slide show gallery of 7 photos to show the progression.