Albatross at Taiaroa Head 
Image: Sabine Bernert ©

Introduction

Meet the stars of the web cam and find out what you can expect to see on the live stream.

The nest featured on Royal cam belongs to northern royal albatross pair known as BK and RBK.

To know which bird is which, keep an eye out for their bands. The male has blue/black bands so his nick name is BK (we use K for black). The female has red/blue/black bands so we call her RBK.

What you'll see on Royal cam

RBK laid her egg on 12 November 2016. Since then the pair have been taking turns on the nest.

The chick hatched on 28 January 2017, and the parents will continue to take turns feeding and guarding the chick for the next five or six weeks. After that they'll leave the chick unguarded, except for feeding visits. 

If all goes well, we'll get to watch another chick grow up on camera and eventually fledge (fly away) when it's about eight months of age. The sex of the chick is unknown at this stage.

There are other nests nearby BK and RBK's nest. They are further down the hill around the corner, but we should see birds coming and going past BK and RBK's nest.

Read more on the FAQ page.

Tracking the chick's weight

We use size, weight and temperament of the chick to guess the sex. Male chicks usually become heavier and larger than female chicks at around 80 days old, although we won't know for sure until the chicks begin to breed, around the age of 10.

The following graph shows the average weight for both male and female albatross chicks. We'll be tracking the web cam chicks weight on the graph in red.

Graph tracking albatross chicks weight, compared to average weight of male and female chicks.

Note: There were a few months in a row where we were unable to weigh this year's chick (around day 61 - day 128), so this section has just been averaged out.

About the adult albatross

The male bird is 12 years old, and the female is 14. Each pair raise just one chick every two years, and they usually mate for life, despite long separations at sea. It takes almost a full year for these large seabirds to raise a single chick.

Both these birds nested for their first time together during the 2011/12 season, and fledged their first chick that season.

The 2012/13 season was their 'year off' and they spent that time apart and at sea before coming back to attempt to breed in the 2013/14 season. That season they were not successful as their egg was infertile, so they left and later returned to breed in the 2014/15 season. This time around they were successful and fledged their second chick.

After another year off at sea during the 2015/16 season, they are now back to attempt to breed again for the 2016/17 season.

BK the foster chick

In the year BK hatched his father did not return from sea during the first few weeks of his life. Because of this we moved the young chick to a foster nest (to a pair that had an infertile egg that season).

It was at this foster nest were BK spent the rest of his 8 months as a chick, being looked after by his foster parents.

Royal albatross short film

Learn more about royal albatross and their life cycle at the breeding colony on Taiaroa Head/Pukekura.

Watch the Royal Albatross short film at NZ On Screen.

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