'Albatross' is sometimes used metaphorically to mean a psychological burden that feels like a curse.
Many of you will be familiar with Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner from school days...
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
In the poem, an albatross starts to follow a ship - being followed by an albatross was generally considered a sign of good luck. However, in short, the mariner shoots the bird with a crossbow - an act that will curse the ship. Even when they are too thirsty to speak, the ship’s crew let the mariner know through their glances that they blame his action for the curse.
The albatross is then literally hung around the mariner’s neck by the crew to symbolize his guilt in killing the bird. Thus, the albatross can be both an omen of good or bad luck, as well as a metaphor for a burden to be carried as penance.
However, at Pair we like to view everything positively.
When the word albatross is mentioned, we think of a love story!
Albatrosses live much longer than other birds; they delay breeding for longer and invest more effort into fewer young. Most species survive upwards of 50 years, the oldest recorded being a Laysan albatross named Wisdom that was ringed in 1956 as a mature adult and hatched another chick earlier this year, making her at least 66 years old. She is the oldest confirmed wild bird as well as the oldest banded bird in the world.
Albatrosses reach sexual maturity quite late (after about five years) and even then they may not breed for another couple of years (up to 10 years for some species).
Young ‘non-breeders’ spend many years practicing elaborate breeding rituals and ‘dances’. Birds begin to develop the stereotypical behaviours that comprise albatross language, but their ability to fully understand this language needs time to develop. After a period of trial and error learning, the young birds learn the syntax and attempt to perfect the dances.
Hmmm... remind you of anything?
The repertoire of behaviour involves synchronised performances of various actions such as preening, pointing, calling, bill clacking, staring, and combinations of such behaviours (like the sky-call). A young bird may dance with many partners, but after a number of years the number of birds an individual will interact with drops, until one partner is chosen and a pair is formed.
Sounds strangely familiar?
They then continue to perfect an individual language that will eventually be unique to that one pair. Having established a pair bond that will last for life.
We’ve found this beautiful film, (The reunion of the Albatross) narrated by the wonderful David Attenborough.
We hope you enjoy the love story!