Monday, August 13, 2007

Al B. Tross Has Left the Building

It is with a bittersweet heart that we announce the departure of our winged friend. That’s right, Al B. Tross has flown the coop. Jessica and I have been monitoring his every move, taking pictures and reading up on the internet to see what should happen next. We knew that his days were numbered when a woman from the bird reserve in Kilauea said that Al was one of only 2 albatross chicks still on the island.

We were not surprised as our little guy was pretty lazy and seemed to prefer sitting in the shade as opposed to flapping his wings to build endurance and muscle. We had grown very attached to the bird as I was greeted by him clicking his beak when I started my day at 6AM each morning. For the most part he would look at us and occasionally waddle around, chewing on grass and leaves. Every few days one of his parents would come to feed him so all in all, life was good for Al B.

We knew the end was near when one day Al decided to do some exploring. These guys don’t go more than 50 feet from their nests for the first 3-4 months so the more exploring they do, the closer they are to leaving. One day I was sitting on my computer and I saw Al waking towards the golf course. I immediately grabbed the camera and had the pleasure of watching his clumsy waddle as he attempted to navigate the black lava rock.

Al surveying his surroundings

A few days later, Jessica and I had gone to the beach one day and when we came back, she exclaimed “Al B is gone!” I flew out the back door and began to race for the cliff. When I got there, Al B was sitting right by the edge and he looked to be contemplating his next move. I ran back to the house and grabbed Jessica, 2 chairs, 2 books, some water and snacks. I was determined to get video of Al B. flapping his wings and jumping off of the cliff. They say that a strong gust of wind in the right direction is all they need to get going. The crazy thing is that once an albatross leaves his/her birthplace, they won’t touch ground for the next 3 years!

Al B. looking over the cliff, planning his next move

Jessica and I sat there for 2 ½ hours and other than the occasional wing-flap, he wasn’t doing much. We both had to take showers so I walked up to him and asked him to stick around for a bit. We said our good-byes in the event that he would leave but we both felt that he would be around when we got back. Not 20 minutes later, we walk back out to the cliff and Al was gone. Four of our neighbors walked up about 5 minutes later and they were as dismayed as we were. It’s kind of hard to explain but the people of Kauai develop a pretty strong connection to these birds. They are the most beautiful and graceful birds we have ever seen and they start off looking like an cute little ugly duckling.

Have you seen me?

Our hope is to return to this same spot in 3-5 years and to see Al B. walking around, taking care of his child. If we’re lucky, maybe he’ll give us a wink. Here is a video that we made as a tribute to our feathered friend. Warning: you might need some Kleenex for this one.

1 comment:

Susie said...

How wonderful to be able to have a chance to watch Al B grow. My baby just left for college...I know what it feels like to let go. Your whole adventage has been fun to read. Thanks for sharing.