Albatross at Taiaroa Head
Image: Sabine Bernert ©

Introduction

Meet the stars of the web cam for the 2018 season, and find out what you can expect to see on the live stream.

The nest featured on Royal cam for the 2017/18 season belongs to northern royal albatross pair known as YWK and KGY.

To know which bird is which, keep an eye out for their bands. The male is 25 years old and has yellow/white/black bands so his nick name is YWK (B is used for blue, so we use K for black). The female is 17 years old and has black/green/yellow bands so we call her KGY.

What you'll see on Royal cam

KGY laid her egg 7 November 2017 and was the 10th egg to be laid in the colony. Since then the pair have been taking turns on the nest.

Once the chick hatches in late January/February, 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. 

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. It compares both Moana's and Tūmanako's weights.

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 parents

There's a bit of a story behind how YWK and KGY got together. Albatross generally retain the same partner for decades, and separations are not usually the norm. But this couple have been through several separations between them with past mates.

The male bird YWK first started breeding as an 8 year old. He had three attempts with one female – their first egg was infertile, on the second attempt the chick died, and finally on the third time they fledged a chick.

A year later he arrived back from sea with a leg injury, so he didn't breed that year and ended up separating from his first mate. His leg eventually healed but as an unattached male he now had to find a new partner. That took some time. After several years of displaying among the other unattached birds, he started breeding with his second mate five years later.

With his second mate, YWK had three nesting attempts, resulting in two chicks fledged. He separated from her and later began breeding with his current mate.

YWK is KGY's second mate. She started to breed at 8 years of age, but the death of her first mate meant that she too had to go through courtship displays again. She found YWK five years after the death of her first mate. This is their third breeding attempt, as they've now successfully fledged two chicks, including the 2017 web cam chick Moana. 

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.

Back to top