Keeping it in the family. George and Geraldine’s latest chick gets its bands while older sibling Short-tailed Albatrosses dance together on Midway Atoll

Holly Parsons Short tailed Albatrosses George and Geraldine after Jonathon Plissner
Pointillist portrait of
Short-tailed Albatrosses George and Geraldine by ABUN artist Holly Parsons for ACAP’s World Albatross Day on 19 June, after a photograph by Jonathon Plissner.  Geraldine is the darker bird in front on the nest.  Acrylic on 16x20-inch canvas board

The 2023/24 chick produced by the well-known pair of Vulnerable Short-tailed Albatrosses Phoebastria albatrus on the USA’s Midway Atoll was given its metal and colour bands by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biologists Laura Brazier and Jon Plissner on 17 April (click here).  This is the fifth chick to be reared (out of six breeding attempts) by the atoll’s lone Short-tail (or Makalena) pair, known affectionately as George and Geraldine.  All four previous chicks successfully fledged and two of them have been seen regularly back on the atoll’s Sand Island as juveniles.

Chick banding 17 April 2024 Jonathon Plissner 2
Held for banding.  The Short-tailed albatross chick is noticeably larger than the surrounding Laysan Albatross chicks, photograph
by Dan Rapp

“The day before [banding] Jon Plissner and the Papahānaumokuākea Marine Debris Project crew observed much more than just the 4-month-old chick that is often left alone at this age.  The father was sitting next to the chick as the mother was snoozing close by and two of the chick's siblings, one that hatched in 2019 the other in 2022, were dancing with each other within a few feet of the nest.  Perhaps one day this exciting and additional Makalena activity will attract other mature birds from across the Pacific to join them.”  So will the second pair of Short-tailed Albatrosses to breed on Sand Island be brother and sister?

Chick banding 17 April 2024 Jonathon Plissner 4 
The 2023/24 Short-tailed Albatross chick gets plastic colour band green AA01 on its left leg
, photograph by Dan Rapp

Access previous posts to ACAP Latest News about George and Geraldine here, and view more paintings of Short-tailed Albatrosses produced by Artists & Biologists Unite for Nature (ABUN) for this year’s World Albatross Day and its theme “Marine Protected Areas – Safeguarding our Oceans” in an ACAP Facebook photo album.

Other news from Midway is of the latest annual nest count of Black-footed P. nigripes and Laysan P. immutabilis Albatrosses as reported on the Facebook page of the United States Fish & Wildlife Service.

“Every December for over 30 years, a dozen incredible volunteers arrive at the atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to count every Laysan (mōlī) and black-footed albatross (ka’upu) nests.  It takes weeks of systematic walking, hand counting, and in some cases, methodically repeating a specific section to double check.  This year the team counted nearly 500,000 mōlī nests and a little less than 30,000 ka’upu nests.  The counts typically rise and fall in alternating years, sometimes by as much as 20%, and the reason for the pattern remains unknown.”

Watch a video of Midway’s annual albatross count in progress by Dan Rapp, United States Fish & Wildlife Service.

John Cooper, Emeritus Information Officer, Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, 30 April 2024

The Agreement on the
Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels

ACAP is a multilateral agreement which seeks to conserve listed albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters by coordinating international activity to mitigate known threats to their populations.

About ACAP

ACAP Secretariat

119 Macquarie St
Hobart TAS 7000

Tel: +61 3 6165 6674