Hybrid Albatross Stands Out on Midway Atoll

Child Born Out of Wedlock

3 of 9
hybrid albatross photo

credit: Jaymi Heimbuch

3 of 9

An albatross chick doesn't have much of a chance of survival unless both parents are working to feed and care for it. Those that live usually have both parents of a mated pair caring for it, even if the male of the pair isn't the father. It seems to be only cases of Black-Footed males raping Laysan females, with the female and her Laysan male mate rearing the chick. Midway's Wildlife Biologist Pete Leary assures me that he has not seen a Black-Footed and Laysan grooming one another, as two albatross do when they are mated with a member of their own species. It's lucky for the hybrid chicks that the Laysan male will acknowledge it as his own and continue to rear it.

Above you'll notice how the hybrid stands apart from the Laysan on the right and the Black-Footed sitting in the background.