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Midway Atoll

 

Midway Atoll NWR

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United States Fish and Wildlife Service

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Laysan Albatross pair bond formed?

This pair of Laysan Albatross seem to be close to forming a permanent bond.  The chick in the background is not theirs.  If this becomes a permanent bond the two will go to sea separately and meet up again next winter to start their family. Part of the reason for the elaborate mating ritual is that mated pairs do not spend much time together.  Feeding a chick takes two parents and one must always be at sea searching for food.


January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December

January
January is a rainy and somewhat chilly month at Midway Atoll. Historically, the atoll receives almost 5 inches of rain during the month, with about 20 rainy days during the month. The average high temperatures is about 74 degrees; the average low, 63 degrees.

 Albatross 

Midway's famous "gooney birds" more than make up for any dreary weather in January! The first Black-footed Albatross chicks usually hatch during mid-month, followed one to two weeks later by Laysan Albatross chicks. Parent birds spend most of their time on the nest, but occasionally like to show off their offspring to visitors.

Bonin Petrel

Secure in their underground burrows, Bonin Petrels begin laying their eggs during January. Many nonbreeding birds are active over the colonies at night.

Red-tailed Tropicbird

January is the beginning of courtship for early season nesters. Their circular aerial flights are as impressive to visitors as they must be to potential mates.

February
February historically is another rainy month, with about 4 inches of rain spread out over 25 days. The average high temperature is about 75 degrees, but the low drops down into the 50s.

Albatross

By the end of the month, all of the Black-footed Albatross and Laysan Albratross chicks have hatched.

Bonin Petrels

Nesting continues during Febryary and mony nonbreeders are visible at night.

           Red-tailed Tropicbird

Some nesting and egg laying begins by late February, though more courtship displays are still ongoing.

March
Although daytime temperatures remain close to the mid- 70s, night temperatures average back in the 60s again during March. Rainfall averages about 3 inches during the month, with an average of 12 rainy days.

Albatrosses

The chicks of both Laysan and black-footed albatross begin to wander from their nests during March.

Bonin Petrels

Chicks begin hatching in March, and nonbreeding activity over colonies increases.

Red-tailed Tropicbird

            Nesting and egg laying continues during March. Aerial courtship displays are much more frequent as the nesting season goes into full swing.

Great Frgatebird

Courtship and nest building continue, and egg laying begins on Eastern Island in March. Occasionally, frigatebirds may be seen flying over Sand Island.

Red-footed Booby

Nest building and egg laying continues on Eastern Island, but the first chicks hatch in March.

Black Noddy

Some nesting and chick-rearing continue during March.

April
Spring begins to arrive at Midway Atoll with temperatures nudging up into the upper 70s during the day and staying around the mid-60s at night. Rainfall drops to about 2 incles, with only about 7 rainy days during the month.

Albatrosses

The chicks of both Laysan and Black-footed Albatross continue growing and many wander from their nest sites.

Bonin Petrel

Hatching is completed.

Red-tailed Tropicbird

Some chicks beging hatching, but eggs continue to be laid as well.

Noddies

Nesting and chick-rearing continue in the Black Noddy colornies during April. Brown Noddies begin to return to the atoll.

Terns

White Tern chicks are more numerous by April, though egg-laying also continues. Gray-backed Terns begin laying eggs by mid-April, and Sooty Terns begin laying eggs by the end of the month. Both nest only on Eastern and Spit Islands.

Shearwaters

The Christmas Shearwaters begin nesting in April, while adult Wedge-tailed Shearwaters are spending their nights courting and begin to burrow.

May

May's weather is much like April's, though high temperatures may edge up into the low 80s. Nighttime temperatures remain near the mid-60s. Rainfall averages about 2.5 inches during the month, with rain falling on about 7 days.

Albatrosses

          The chicks of both Laysan and Black-footed Albatross continue growing and are much better at walking. They begin showing some adult feathers.

Bonin Petrel
Some chicks fledge near the end of May. The presence of adults over the colonies begins to decline.
Red-tailed Tropicbird
Some eggs are just being laid, which many chicks are also hatching.
Great Frigatebird
More eggs laid on Eastern Island, which some chicks hatch. More frigatebirds may be seen over Sand Island.
Red-footed Booby
Egg laying ends on Eastern Island, and chicks continue to hatch and grow.
Noddies
Black Noddy nesting and chick-rearing continue during May, while Brown Noddies begin their egg-laying.
Terns
Early season white tern chick continue to grow, though egg-laying and hatching also continue as the peak of their breeding seasons arrives. Gry-backed tern chicks begin hatching in May, but egg laying may continue during the month. More Sooty Terns return to Eastern Island and egg laying peaks this month. As many as 75,000 pairs blanket the ground on parts of Eastern Island.
Shearwaters
The Christmas Shearwaters continue nesting in May, and adult Wedge-tailed Shearwaters keep busy building their burrows.
June

Average monthly rainfall continues at about the 2.5 inch level, with 8 rainy days during the month. Average high temperatures climb to the mid-80s, and low temperatures are now in the 70s.

Albatrosses
Adult Black-footed Albatross begin leaving the atoll in June, and even a few chicks may fledge. Laysan Albatross chicks are almost full-grown, and many adults may leave the atoll.
Bonin Petrel
All Bonin Petrel chicks fledge this month.
Red-tailed Tropicbird
Some eggs are still being laid and incubated, but most chicks have hatched and are growing.
Great Frigatebird
More chicks are seen on Eastern Island
Red-footed Booby
Chicks continue to hatch and grow.
Noddies
Most Black Noddy chicks are half grown. Most Brown Noddies are still incubating their eggs, while some have hatched chicks.
Terns
Peak numbers of White Terns are present on the atoll during June. Chicks continue to grow, and egg-laying and hatching are mostly completed. More Gray-backed Tern chicks have hatched. Most Sooty Tern chicks hatch in June.
Shearwaters
The Christmas Shearwaters chicks begin to hatch, and adult Wedge-tailed Shearwaters begin laying eggs.

July

July initiates the humid months of the year, but fresh winds keep the island quite comfortable. High temperatures average in the uppder 80s, and lows average in the mid-70s. Rainfall increases to about 3.5 inches during the months, and falls on an average of 10 days.

Albatrosses
Remaining adult Black-footed Albatrosses and newly fledged chicks depart from Midway in July. More juvenile Laysan Albatross are fledging and only a few adults remain on the atoll.
Bonin Petrel
All Bonin Petrels have left Midway by early July.
Red-tailed Tropicbird
Most chicks have hatched, and fledging may begin.
Great Frigatebird
Peak number of chicks are seen on Eastern Island.
Red-footed Booby
Most chicks have hatched and continue to grow.
Noddies
Most Black Noddy chicks are half grown and some have fledged. Most Brown Noddies chicks hatch in July while some are just laying eggs.
Terns
White Tern chicks vary from hatchlings to older chicks ready to fledge, and more Gray-backed Terns are hatching and some fledging. Sooty Tern chicks are growing.
Shearwaters
The Christmas Shearwaters chicks are growing in July, but Wedge-tailed Shearwaters continue incubating eggs.

August

Humidity and temperatures peak in August, with the average high close to 90 degrees and the low in the upper 70s. Rainfall increases to about 4 inches over the month, falling on about 14 days.

Albatrosses
Any remaining juvenile Laysan Albatross generally have left the island by late August.
Bonin Petrel
These birds are not absent from the atoll for long, as they begin returning and renovating their nesting burrows in August.
Red-tailed Tropicbird
More of the early chicks are fledging, but a few eggs may be laid in renesting attempts.
Great Frigatebird
Chicks continue to grow.
Red-footed Booby
Chicks continue to grow.
Noddies
Most Black Noddy chicks continue to grow, and many are fledging. Brown Noddy chicks may fledge by the end of August, but many chicks have just hatched and some adults are still incubating eggs.
Terns
Many White Tern chicks have fledged by the end of August, and more Gray-backed Terns are fledging. Most Sooty Tern chicks also are learning to fly.
Shearwaters
The Christmas Shearwaters chicks are still growing. Wedge-tailed Shearwaters chicks begin to hatch.
Shorebirds
While large numbers of seabirds may be leaving the atoll, shorebirds - especially the Pacific Golden Plover and Ruddy Turnstones begin returning to Midway from their northern breeding grounds during August. Smaller number of Bristl-thighed Curlews and Wandering Tattlers also may be spotted.

September

Temperatures fall only a few degrees in September, with average highs in the upper 80s and lows in the mid 70s. Rainfall decreases to about 3 inches spread over an average of 9 days.

Albatrosses

No Albatross present,.

Bonin Petrel

Many adult petrels are present on the atoll, courting, and excavating burrows.

Red-tailed Tropicbird

Fledging continues throughout September, and a few older chicks remain.

Great Frigatebird

Chicks continue to grow.

Red-footed Booby

Most chicks learn to fly during this month.

Noddies

Most Black Noddy chicks have fledged. Most Brown Noddy chicks have fledged, while some adults are caring for young chicks.

Terns

Fewer Gray-backed terns are seen on the atoll, and most Sooty Terns depart by the end of September. Most White Tern chicks are fledged.

         Shearwaters

          The Christmas Shearwaters and Wedge-tailed Shearwaters chicks continue to grow. A few Christmas Shearwaters are fledging, and more        Wedge-tailed Shearwater chicks hatch.

         Shorebirds

Shorebirds continue to arrive on Midway. Pacific Golden Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, and Bristle-thighed Curlew populations peak for the fall season in September.

October

Temperatures decline only a few degrees, with average highs in the mid 80s and lows in the low 70s. Rainfall increases slightly to about 3.5 inches over 12 days.

Albatrosses
The first Black-footed and Laysan Albatross return in the latter half of October.
Bonin Petrel
Many adults present on the atoll.
Red-tailed Tropicbird
The seasons's remaining young generally fledge by the end of October.
Great Frigatebird
Juveniles begin to fledge in October.
Red-footed Booby
All but the last chicks of the season fledge by October.
Noddies
With their long nesting season, Black Noddies may start nesting and laying eggs in October.
Shearwaters
More Christmas Shearwaters chicks are fledging in October. Wedge-tailed Shearwaters chicks continue to grow.
Shorebirds
Many shorebirds remain on Midway over the winter, but others depart for warmer climates.

November
The winter season approaches on Midway Atoll, with increased rainfall (4 inches spread over 15 days) and lower temperatures. The average high is in the upper 70s and the average low drops back to the mid 60s.
Albatrosses
Black-footed Albatrosses are busy building nests and laying eggs in November. Most of the Laysan Albatrosses return during November, though the early arrivals may begin laying eggs by late November.
Bonin Petrel
Many adult Bonin Petrels are present on the atoll.
Great Frigatebird
The last of the season's juveniles fledge in November.
Noddies
Some Black Noddies continue nesting and laying eggs in November.
Shearwaters
The last Christmas Shearwaters chicks fledge and depart in November, followed by all of the Wedge-tailed Shearwaters near the end of the month.

December
Winter is back. The average high temperature during December is in the mid 70s, the low in the mid 60s. Rainfall remains steady at about 4 inches, spread over 19 days.
Albatrosses
Black-footed Albatrosses are incubating eggs in December, and most of the Laysan Albatrosses eggs are laid during the month.
Bonin Petrel
Many adult birds on the island.
Noddies
Black Noddy continue nesting and laying eggs in December, and small numbers of Brown Noddies are seen.
Terns
The numbers of White Terns begin to increase.

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