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The long wait is finally over! As January comes to a close we mark the end of the long incubation period. The chicks are finally hatching! This is a very exciting time for Taiaroa Head, and the news soon travels along the Otago Peninsula and around the world - the Mayor of Dunedin even flies a 'Happy Birthday' flag outside the civic building. These tiny new individuals have a lot of growing to do in the coming months, but for now mum or dad will hang around to keep them safe for the first few weeks.
Some parents will still be incubating their precious egg throughout the month, but by the end of January we expect to have most of our chicks hatched. It is a time during which we welcome our new members of the colony into life, here in Dunedin.
The Department of Conservation rangers have their work cut out for the next 8 months! You may see one the rangers out in the reserve keeping an eye on the precious new members, making sure that the chicks are being fed and that the breeding adults are comfortably settling into parenthood.
The adolescent and single albatross are stillat the colony, with noisy courting displays and showing off their flying abilities as they enjoy the breezes around the headland.
Top 10 Royal Albatross Facts
1. Northern Royal Albatross wingspan is three metres, albatrosses are the world’s largest seabirds.
2. Height when standing is around one metre, with feet the size of a human hand. Adult weight is around 7kg
3. Top speed of an albatross in flight is about 110kph. They can fly over 1,000km in a day and up to 19,000 km in a year.
4. Albatross take two years to raise one chick. Mating takes place in September/October, egg laying and brooding November/ December/ January, hatching January/February and feeding the chick right through to August/September, then the parents have a year off overseas.
5. Squid is albatross’ favourite food, although Dunedin’s albatross eat a lot of octopus.
6. ‘Albatross tears’ are actually salt being excreted via a gland excess salt from drinking seawater
7. Pair bonding is usually for life. There are also around three or four female-female pair who help raise chicks at Taiaroa Head.
8. Chicks fledge at around eight months old. They take off for on average five years, never touching land until they return to Taiaroa Head to search for a mate and partake in elaborate courtship rituals.
9. The first Royal Albatross chick fledged from Taiaroa Head in 1938; the colony now has around 250 birds. Average life span is 25 years.
10. Dunedin is the only place in the world where you can visit a breeding colony on a mainland. It’s an easy 45 minute from the central city to Taiaroa Head/Pukekura
Your only chance to see... the world's only mainland Royal Albatross breeding colony. Visit our exclusive observatory on the nature reserve to see giant albatross throughout their breeding cycle as they court, lay eggs and raise huge fluffy chicks.