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Counters2015.512x219 D.Clark

The count is in!  Assuming there is a pair of albatrosses for every nest counted by volunteers in December 11, 2014 - January 2, 2015, the final nest count for hatch year 2015 translates to over 1.39 million individual Laysan and black-footed albatrosses; indicating Midway Atoll hosts the largest nesting albatross colony on the planet.  

  • The Story of Wisdom Continues

    Wisdom on egg

    So what’s up with the missing egg?  Of the over 694,000 albatross nests counted on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge during December 2014 a percentage of those nests with eggs have not hatched and some eggs have disappeared.  The island’s natural egg predators such the ruddy turnstones or bristle-thighed curlews can actually take eggs that are not closely attended.  Cockroaches and other scavengers such as mice can quickly move in to clean house and devour shell remnants of damaged eggs.   When this happens the albatross pair abandons their nest and tries again next year.  Laysan albatross also occasionally skip a year or even two as they use their precious energy resources to complete a full molt while at sea or simply take a breather to replenish their energy after accomplishing an exhaustive seven-month incubation and chick rearing effort.  Wisdom and her mate have been sighted and they appear to be fine. We are hopeful Wisdom will return next year to start nature’s cycle of rearing chick number 30 something! For more information and photos visit:

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  • Birth Announcement!

    First Born Known Seal Pup for 2015

    Although not a newborn, the first known Hawaiian monk seal pup born in 2015 in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands was sighted on Sunday, January 25 by Refuge Biologist Meg Duhr-Schulz on Eastern Island.  For more information on the NOAA Hawaiian Monk Seal Research Program and recent Hawaiian monk seal activity throughout the Hawaiian Archipelago visit:

  • Nest Counts:All-time Record High

    2015 First Chick.C.Lobelfried1

    The 2015 hatch year nest count is at an all-time record-breaking high since Fish and Wildlife Service volunteers began systematically counting every nesting pair of albatross on Midway Atoll.  Now that the marking and counting of nest sites is over, the islands are alive with new chicks hatching out everywhere, every hour of the day within Pihemanu (Hawaiian place name for Midway meaning "loud din of birds"). Photo by: Caren Loebel-fried.

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  • Male Short-tailed Albatross Found Dead


    Unfortunately, on Saturday, December 13, 2014 a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service volunteer discovered a male short-tailed albatross deceased on Eastern Island.  He was first sighted and apparently healthy on October 24, 2014 and remained in the general area near the decoy plot. 

    The cause of death is still unknown.  However, analysis of the reproductive organs indicated that this individual was not a sexually mature male and therefore not the male breeder that sired three chicks previously on Eastern Island.

    Nicknamed the Golden Goonie, this seabird species once soared the Pacific Ocean by the millions before the turn-of-the-century. We hope the analysis to determine the cause of death will unveil information that will help this species survive. 

    Diagnostic Case Report: National Wildlife Health Center-Honolulu 

    Chronology of Photos and Video

    News Story

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  • A Remarkable Early Holiday Gift

    Wisdom and Her Mate First Sighting 11.22.214

    Wisdom (left), the world's oldest (at 63 years old or possibly older) known banded bird in the wild was observed preening and incubating her recently laid egg on December 3, 2014.  Hatch date should be around February 6, 2015.  Wisdom has a highly visible band labeled Z333 which allows Fish and Wildlife Service staff to recognize her from a distance.  Her mate has the band number G000. 

     Midway Atoll is currently crowded with hundreds of thousands of albatross sitting on their nests. The male and female are both busy either feeding themselves at sea or trading places with their mate to share in the incubation duties.  We will keep an eye on Wisdom, and her nest and post updates as the egg's due date nears.  Photo by B. Wolfe/USFWS

    Check out our photo and video gallery of Wisdom this nesting season along with the chick this pair reared last season at  or by checking out the Multimedia tab on this website.

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  • Verbesina Clean-up

    Eastern after verbesina thumbnail

    View the before and after photos of Eastern Island where verbesina is successfully being controlled while opening up nest sites and allowing one to see the "historic" Eastern Island runways and bunkers.

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  • Aircraft Makes Emergency Landing

    serving passengers in gym thumbnailThe residents on Midway worked into the night and early morning hours to assure crew and passengers were cared for and served a hot meal.   


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  • Whiskered Tern Sighted

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    First confirmed sighting of a whiskered tern in the Hawaiian archipelago. It was discovered enjoying a brackish pond surrounded by endangered Laysan ducks. The whiskered tern breeds in a number of areas in southern Europe, India, south-west and south-east Asia, south-east Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Populations that breed in cooler northern locations migrate south for winter, to tropical Africa, India or Indonesia, a journey that can cover up to 5,000 miles. The whiskered tern lives mainly in inland marshes, pools and lakes, where there is substantial vegetation. It feeds on terrestrial and aquatic insects, mosquitoes, spiders, frogs, tadpoles, small crabs, shrimps and small fish.


Last Updated: Feb 05, 2015
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