My first job out of college (1965) was as site engineer at an Army radio station on Midway Island. At the time, Midway was populated by a few thousand people and a several hundred thousand birds. Birds were everywhere. Sensing an opportunity, I took up photography. Here are some of the results. I am not a bird expert so I'm not 100% sure of the scientific names. In fact, considering that these pictures were made over 30 years ago and the state of my memory, I'm not sure of anything. For a bit about the islands, check out my Midway Info page. See also the Past Residents of Midway Island site.


As usual, click on the picture for a bigger view.
Laysan Albatross, Diomedea immutabilis
Popularly called the Gooney bird, pairs mate for life and can build elaborate mound-like nests to which they return each year. The typical bird stands about 18" tall, weighs about 5 pounds and has about a 7 foot wing span.
Courtship means dancing
The bird on the left is emitting a cowlike moo while the one on the right clacks its beak rapidly. These activities plus a few others and much bobbing up and down and strutting around go on for several weeks prior to mating.
Offspring
A Laysan Albatross chick, approximately one month old, is covered with big downy feathers. The birds get really silly looking when the down begins to fall off as the mature.
Black-footed Albatross, Diomedia nigripes
Black Gooney with egg. Preferring to nest in less traveled areas, this species is aggressive towards interlopers. If you walk too close to a nest, its owner may growl at you then bite your pants leg and throw up on your foot.
Upfh!
A Black-footed chick get squashed by parent. The chicks are often trod upon and have to be tough in order to survive.
In Flight
Awkward on land, the Gooney is truly graceful in flight. They glide on the wind effortlessly and can fly great distances. Transported to Whidby Island, Washington, a bird made the 3200 mile return trip in 10 days.
Fairy Tern, Gygis alba
Fairy Terns lay one egg, often in precarious locations such as this one.
Fairy Tern Chick
Young Fairy Tern chick hangs on for dear life.
Fairy Tern with Lunch
Sooty Tern, Sterna fuscata
Sooty tern with egg. Sooty Terns "nest" in large numbers in open fields but do not build nests. The egg is laid on the sandy ground.
Red-footed Booby, Sula sula
Yes, Virginia, there really is a Booby Bird and it does have red feet.
Great Frigatebird, Frigata minor
A male Frigatebird with chick.The ruddy colored area beneath the beak is an air bladder which can be inflated to enhance(?) attractiveness. The Frigatebird is a predator.
Male and Female
A male (left) Frigatebird shows off near a female. An immature female (right) just sits there looking sinister. Scary looking, eh?
Red-tailed Tropicbird, Phaethon rubricauda
Extremely ungainly on and but agile in the air. It can fly backwards! I saw an airborne Tropicbird steal a fish from another flying bird by frightening the bird into dropping its fish and then catching the fish before it hit the ground.
Wedge-tailed Shearwater, Puffinus pacificus
Reclusive, nests in hard to see spots under bushes near beach. In the early evening, this bird may wail spookily.
Brown Noddy, Anous stolidus
Quiet and unassuming, the Brown Noddy nests near the beaches.
Ruddy Turnstone, Arenaria interpres
A small bird photographed from far away.
Golden Plover, Pluvialis fulva
Another small bird photographed from far away.
Copyright 1996 D. M. Brockman - Last modified March 02, 2005