Once more heartening news comes from Japan's Mukojima Island where since 2008 efforts have been made to establish a new breeding colony of Short-tailed Albatrosses Phoebastria albatrus.
For the last four years chicks have been translocated from Torishima, 350 km away, and hand-fed in an artificial colony on Mukojima until they fledge. A total of 55 chicks has been translocated, with the 2011 cohort still present on the island.
Over the last few weeks colour-banded birds from the 2008 cohort have been landing at the colony site - four out of the 10 fledglings so far - and have interacted with both the 2011 chicks and with each other, engaging in mutual displays.
Latest news is of the first bird from the 2009 cohort of 15 chicks to return to the island. Red Y24 is a two-year-old male, based on genetic analysis, and was photographed at the translocation site on 26 March.
Search this web site with "Mukojima" to read a number of earlier news items on this important translocation exercise.
With continued thanks to Tomohiro Deguchi, Yamashina Institute for Ornithology for information.
A translation from a Japanese news item follows,with thanks to Kiyoaki Ozaki and Chuck Pell.
First Ever Two-year Old Short-tailed Albatross Returns to Mukojima
On 28 March the Ministry of Environment announced that a Special National Natural Treasure Short-tailed Albatross (STAL) observed at Mukojima, Ogasawara Islands, proved to be a two-year old male that had fledged from the island after translocation from the Torishima, Izu Islands nesting site 350 kilometres away as part of effort to guard against extinction.
Between 2600 and 2800 STALs inhabit Torishima, but fears of extinction from eruptions in the island's volcanically active environment led to a project that started in 2008 that translocated birds as chicks from Torishima to Mukojima, anticipating that the migratory birds' homing instinct would lead them to return to Mukojima to establish a new breeding colony there.
Return of birds from the project to Mukojima began with the arrival of a three-year old male this year on 10 February, and continued through 17 March with the return of three additional STALs, all three-year-olds. Yamashina Institute for Ornithology Deputy Director General Kiyoaki Ozaki commented, "Since the Institute has been observing STALs, this is the first two-year old to have returned. Perhaps it has something to do with the good nutrition associated with the chicks' being hand-raised on Mukojima."
John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 29 March 2011, updated 30 March 2011