Baby albatross dead after mother attacks it leaving it with unrecoverable injuries

A Royal cam albatross chick was attacked by its mother.
A Royal cam albatross chick was attacked by its mother.

A baby albatross has died after it was attacked by its mother who left it with unrecoverable injuries.

The Royal cam albatross, which was just under a month old, died after it was attacked by its mother at the Otago Peninsula Royal Albatross Centre in Dunedin on Sunday night. 

Webcam footage shows the mother bird attacking her chick, leaving it with injuries it could not recover from, the Department of Conservation (DoC) says. 

"Aggression by adults and juveniles towards chicks has been seen previously but this is unusual behaviour and the Department is uncertain why the attack occurred," DoC Threatened Species ambassador Nicola Toki says.

It has already been a tough breeding season for the colony due to hot weather putting the birds under stress, Ms Toki says. 

"This chick was one of only 16 to hatch this year, as Dunedin's unusually hot summer has been putting the birds under a great deal of stress. With these low numbers, the death of the 'Royal cam' chick is a serious loss to the fragile colony - the only mainland colony of albatross in the Southern Hemisphere."

"We cannot say exactly why this sad event occurred. Up until now, the chick had been doing well with both parent birds showing normal chick-raising behaviour."

DoC rangers are managing the remaining chicks daily to ensure they have the best possible chance of surviving to leave the nest.

Management includes removal of any maggots, supplementary feeding for chicks and nesting birds, and using hand watering and an irrigation sprinkler system on the headland to help keep chicks and adult birds cool.