Laysan albatross are the kind of bird we fall in love with. They possess faces made from the strokes of an artist's paint brush. They glide with their six-foot wings stretched wide and swoop in gentle arcs up and over ocean waves. Laysan albatross are the kind of birds that make us humans long for wings with which to take to the air. They are the kind of bird that makes even those among us who don't consider themselves birders become birders.
I believe one of the reasons we fall for Laysan albatross is because we see so much of ourselves in them. And when it comes to the human emotion of love that we celebrate every Valentine's Day, Laysan albatross have much to teach us.
1. This time of year in the Laysan albatross world, mates are taking turns guarding their newly-hatched chicks on their nests.
Both the male and female participate in the rearing of their young, and with their four-inch long bill that rip apart squid and a flying fish, the parents will tenderly preen their young chicks, small enough to fit in the palm of a human hand.
2. Laysan albatross are over-the-moon dedicated to their chicks.
So dedicated are they, that when their mate returns from a week's foraging bout at sea - during which time the sitting parent hasn't eaten a thing - they don't hop off their nest and race off for a good meal. In some cases, their mate has to bodily hip-check its way onto the nest. And still the hungry parent may not leave the area right away, choosing, instead, to preen its mate or coo to its chick for a few minutes or hours before tearing itself away to fill its belly.