Valentine is a Laysan Albatross (Moli). Valentine hatched on February 12, 2008 ergo the call name. And, until recently, I and others thought Valentine was a bachelor. In fact, since returning to roost in 2013, my family fondly has referred to this seabird as “Stanley.”
Come to find out, Valentine aka Stanley is actually a bachelorette! North Shore Resident and Author of My Albatross Diary Cathy Granholm recently gave me the talk. Cathy explained that DNA tests had been performed on many adult birds and chicks in the past. Biologist Lindsay Young of Pacific Rim Conservation, then a grad student working on her doctorate, came to Hawaii to learn more about the many female/female Albatross couples. She performed testing by collecting feathers from birds during the 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 seasons. As a result of Doctor Young’s work, Valentine’s sex is well documented.
Valentine subsequently fledged from Kaweonui Point on July 19, 2008. This maiden voyage would last until she was almost five. In the picture book, The Majestic Albatross, my former neighbor, author and photographer Robert “Bob” Waid talks about this all important and, at times, perilous stage in the life of a young Albatross over the ocean. From sleeping in the air to drinking salt water, one gains a whole new appreciation for these truly magnificent and, yes, majestic birds.
Now 11, Valentine prefers to spend her time on land at The Dolphin Hale–just a stone’s throw from her birthplace. To the delight of house guests from roughly November to June, this single lady can be seen and heard honing her dance moves and vocal talents. Cathy also tells me that Valentine has been spotted spending a lot of time with a certain Albatross this year.
Albatross mate for life. Valentine’s own parents were two of the most prolific pairs on the North Shore. It is hoped that Valentine has finally found her life partner. If so, the 2019/2020 season could be very exciting!
With Aloha ~ Aunty Tammy
Note: Laysan Albratross are Federally Protected. Please do not attempt to feed any of these seabirds nor crowd them. When photographing an Albatross, I recommend using a long 150 – 200 mm lens. This will ensure the comfort of the bird(s) and more likely will result in better photos!