Second albatross chick found dead

A second Royal Albatross chick has died at the colony on Taiaroa Head in less than a week.

The first chick died last Tuesday after receiving treatment for a broken leg.

The second was found dead early on Sunday by an Otago Peninsula Trust member.

The Department of Conservation was unsure of the reason for its death and its body had been flown to Massey University for an autopsy.

Doc community relations officer John Gordon said the chick, which could be viewed from the Royal Albatross Centre and was being given extra food and supplements every couple of days, had been checked on Saturday.

On Sunday, it was discovered the 9kg chick had lost 3kg and died.

Its diet was being supplemented with salmon, electrolytes and special vitamins as its mother had not returned to feed it in some time.

Chicks could slowly starve to death if fed by only one parent, he said.

"It had put on a lot of weight and was over 9kg, but suddenly lost it all."

Weather conditions were bad at Taiaroa Head at the weekend, but the remaining nine chicks, including one other which was also being given extra food, were doing fine, he said.

"There seems to be some other factor involved, but we hope to get to the bottom of the thing with the autopsy and analysis."

The autopsy results from the first dead chick confirmed Doc staff's suspicions that the bird had fallen before being handled for banding, Mr Gordon said.

It had received serious internal injuries to both lungs and a haemorrhage to one side, as well as the broken leg.

The chick, which was just learning to walk and had no use of its wings, had made its nest on a half metre-wide ledge over a very steep bank.

"It's taken a major tumble, as we had feared, and got itself back up the bank and looked OK."


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