Review the main events, including nesting cycle milestones and other noteworthy incidents, in this historical timeline of the Royal Albatross cam.
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Nesting Cycle Dates & Information
|Top Flat Track
|Top Flat Track
2023–24 Season Timeline
Jan. 31, 2024: Royal Cam Welcomes Second Hatchling In View At Top Flat Track
The Northern Royal Albatross from the Top Flat Track nest was returned to the nest on January 31 after hatching out in the incubator. Watch the hatchling’s first weigh-in at the nest with Ranger Sharyn from the New Zealand Department of Conservation. The chick weighed 270 grams at hatching and continues to grow thanks to frequent meals from its parents.
Jan. 23, 2024: Royal Albatross Chick Hatches At Top Flat Nest
The Top Flat chick finished hatching in the artificial incubator and was returned to the nest under the male (LGK) on January 23. The chick weighed 300 grams at hatching and will cared for by both parents for the next several weeks as they swap duties between foraging at sea and attending the nest site.
Dec. 14, 2023: New Royal Cam Season Launches With Two Nests In View
The Royal Cam viewing community will be greeted by both familiar and fresh faces during the 2023–24 breeding season. Male LGK and female LGL return to the Top Flat nest site, where they are caring for a single egg laid on November 7. Nearby at the Top Track Flat site, male WYL and female BOK have been tending to their egg since it was laid on November 14.
2022–23 Season Timeline
Sept. 16, 2023: Royal Albatross Chick “Manaaki” Fledges Out To Sea
Manaaki, the star chick from the 2022–23 Northern Royal Albatross Cam, has fledged. Manaaki’s final minutes in front of the cam came on September 16. Watch him rise and begin opening his wings against the wind blowing across the headland. Eventually, Manaaki departs out of frame. Manaaki was 239 days old on September 16. The average age at fledging for Northern Royal Albatross is 240 days.
Jan. 21, 2023: Royal Cam Chick Hatches, Returned To Adult At South Plateau Nest
Watch a triumphant return to the nest for the Royal Albatross Cam chick on January 21. Rangers from New Zealand’s Department of Conservation removed the egg to a secure incubator as soon as pipping began (a few days ago) in order to safeguard the hatching chick from “flystrike”, where flies attack the immobile hatching chick, laying eggs that, when hatched, can imperil the survival of the chick. Prior to placing the chick in the nest, the area around the nest and the nest itself is treated with a bird-safe fly deterrent to repel flies while the chick is still young.
Nov. 28, 2022: Royal Cam Season Launches from South Plateau Nest
We are happy to announce the new nesting site for the 2022–23 Northern Royal Albatross cam season! Male GLY (named for his colored leg bands: Green/Lime/Yellow) and female L (Lime) will be featured this season at the South Plateau nesting site located within the Taiaroa Head Nature Reserve on New Zealand’s South Island. Their single egg was laid on November 4, and the parents have been switching off incubation duties ever since.
2021–22 Season Timeline
Sept. 3, 2022: Royal Albatross Chick “Lilibet” First To Fledge From Taiaroa Head
The Quarry Track chick has seized the moment! The 220-day-old Royal Albatross chick, named “Lilibet” in honor of Queen Elizabeth II, became the first nestling to fledge from the headland at the Taiaroa Head Nature Reserve in 2022. Watch the chick perk up as southwesterly winds blow at high speeds across the Otago Peninsula in New Zealand. She opens up her wings, and the wind takes her down the headland and towards the open ocean, where the chick will spend the next several years before returning home to find a mate.
April 5, 2022: DNA Results Confirm Northern Royal Albatross Chick Is A Female
Big news! The New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) has received the nestling’s DNA test results, and they’ve revealed that the Quarry Track chick is a female. The streak of female chicks continues! We’ve now had three in a row since the Cornell Lab and DOC started partnering together on the Royal cam in 2019–20.
According to the DOC, knowing the sex of chicks is useful for their management, as males are at this stage becoming heavier than their female counterparts and require more food. Watch rangers stop by on day 69 of the nestling period to weigh the cam star. The chick now weighs a healthy 11 pounds (5 kg).
Jan. 26, 2022: Royal Albatross Chick Hatches In Incubator And Returned To Nest
After spending 5 days hatching out in an incubator, the Royal Albatross chick has been returned to the care of the female (YRK) at the Quarry Track nest site. The #RoyalCam chick is the 11th to hatch so far across the breeding colony at the Taiaroa Head Nature Reserve on New Zealand’s South Island. Watch Ranger Sharyn from the New Zealand Department of Conservation remove the dummy egg from beneath the female, apply bird-safe insect repellant to the nest bowl, and return the hatchling. After a quick check, YRK accepts her still-damp hatchling and settles in with a shimmy over the nest.
Dec. 2, 2021: New Royal Albatross Cam Season Begins At Quarry Track Site
Welcome to Quarry Track, the nest location for the 2021-22 Royal Albatross cam season. We are excited to announce that this season will be featuring some old friends on cam, as male OGK and female YRK return for another breeding attempt at the Taiaroa Head Nature Reserve on New Zealand’s South Island. This pair was most recently featured during the 2019-20 season when they successfully raised star chick Atawhai to fledging. The pair is currently caring for a fertile egg, laid on the November 9. Learn more about this season’s family.
2020-21 Season Timeline
Sept. 25, 2021: Albatross Chick Tiaki Fledges From Taiaroa Head Nature Reserve
Watch a Royal Albatross chick open up its wings and take off from the headland and out to sea on the morning of September 25! It’s possible that the fledgling in this clip is Tiaki, the star chick from the Royal cam, based on recent data from her GPS tracker that confirms definite movement at sea. Two other chicks fledged along with Tiaki since the last check by rangers from the Department of Conservation. Tiaki was 244 days post-hatch at the time of her fledge. She will now spend the next 4-10 years at sea before returning to her breeding colony at Taiaroa Head Nature Reserve to attempt to find a mate and breed. Thanks to Tiaki’s GPS transmitter, we should be able to track her movements at sea. Fledglings may spend their first several hours preening at sea before they move one with their journey. Track Tiaki’s location.
May 11, 2021: Royal Albatross Chick Named “Tiaki” By Royal Cam Community
The results from the 2021 “Name the Chick” competition are in, and the 2021 Royal Cam chick has been named Tiaki by the cam community! Tiaki means to protect, preserve, and care. The submitter of this name hopes it inspires protection of our planet and the care it needs. The name is to remind us to preserve the land and sea the Royal Cam chick and other wildlife depend on.
March 6, 2021: DNA Results Determine 2021 Royal Cam Chick Is A Female
The results are in, and our partners at the New Zealand Department of Conservation have announced that DNA results have determined that the 2020–21 Royal Cam chick is female. DNA analysis is conducted on blood vessel samples taken from the eggs after the chicks have hatched. Only one of the 33 chicks did not receive a result as the egg shell was too damaged to retrieve enough material. This season there are 17 female chicks and 15 male chicks.
January 24, 2021: Royal Albatross Chick Hatches And Gets Returned To Nest
On January 21, a pip (a break in the shell) surfaced on the RoyalCam egg. The egg was quickly transported to an incubator for the remainder of the hatching process. Back at the nest site, a dummy egg was placed in the nest during this process to keep the parents incubating on the nest. After spending 4 days working its way out of the shell, the RoyalCam chick fully hatched and has been returned to the care of its waiting parent at the Top Flat nest site on January 24. Watch a ranger from the New Zealand Department of Conservation gently remove the dummy egg from the nest and replace it with the day-old hatchling.
December 4, 2020: Next Royal Cam Season Launches With New Family
Big news! The next Royal Albatross cam season is underway with a return performance from breeding pair LGL (the female, named for her leg bands) and LGK (the male), last seen on cam in 2018-2019. The female laid the pair’s egg on November 7, and it has been identified as fertile by our cam partners at the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC). Read more about this season’s pair.
2019-20 Season Timeline
September 16, 2020: Royal Albatross Chick “Atawhai” Fledges
Atawhai, the star chick of the Northern Royal Albatross cam, took her first flight on the morning of September 16. There were no surprises here—all signs indicated a green light for takeoff. At 230 days post-hatch, Atawhai was a bit younger than the average fledgling (240 days), but she met a standard pre-fledge weight of 17.4 pounds (7.9 kg).
March 5, 2020: DNA Tests Reveal 2020 Royal Albatross Chick Is Female
Our partners at the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) announced that DNA testing has revealed that this year’s Royal Albatross chick is a female. After having a bias towards female chicks in the colony over the past two years, this year’s DNA tests confirm that there are more male chicks throughout the colony overall in 2020.
January 31, 2019: Albatross Chick Hatches, Returned To Nest
The Royal Albatross chick reunites with its parent (male OGK) after spending the past five days hatching out in an incubator. Watch the chick’s return to the nest as a DOC ranger preps the nest site and gently places the hatchling in the nest bowl. OGK is quick to acknowledge his chick and promptly tucks it in under a warm embrace of feathers.
January 26, 2019: Pipping Egg Transported To Incubator
Watch a DOC ranger carefully remove the pipping albatross egg from the nest and place a dummy egg in the nest. Royal Albatross eggs are transported to an incubator during the hatching process to remove the risk of fly strike during the long hatching process.
December 20, 2019: Royal Albatross Cam Launches On Bird Cams
Big news from Down Under! The Cornell Lab has teamed up with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) to bring the new Northern Royal Albatross cam to Bird Cams. This new partnership spans further than the Pacific; it will also increase the viewership of the DOC’s wildly popular cam, known since 2016 as the RoyalCam, and give millions more people the chance to get to know the world’s largest seabird.
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