Campbell Albatross (Thalassarche impavida)

Campbell Albatross

[order] PROCELLARIIFORMES | [family] Diomedeidae | [latin] Thalassarche impavida | [authority] Mathews, 1912 | [UK] Campbell Albatross | [FR] Albatros de Campbell | [DE] Not found | [ES] Albatros de Campbell | [NL] Campbell’s Albatros


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Thalassarche impavida PO Campbell Is, NZ


Albatrosses are the ‘largest’ birds in terms of wingspan. Royal Abatrosses, for instance, may reach a wing span of almost 3.5m, which make them look like feathered sail plaines. They are also the largest members of the tubenose family. Only the smallest albatross species are equalled in size by the Giant Petrels (Macronectes). Albatrosses occur in all oceans, except the northern part of the Atlantic. In ancient times they were also present in that part of the world, but nowadays only an occasional straggler find its way to the North Atlantic. Most of the 24 species are Southern Hemisphere breeders, only three actually breed north of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean.
Albatross taxonomy is subject of discussion for a long time, and has been at times rather chaotic. Based on external characters: plumage patterns, tail shapes, bill structure (size, organization of the plates and coloration) albatrosses were, until recently, divided in 13-14 species in four ‘natural groups’: the Great Albatrosses, the Mollymawks, the North Pacific Albatrosses, grouped in the genus Diomedea and the Sooty Albatrosses Phoebastria. More recently DNA-analyses supports the division in four distinct groups but the were elevated to a generic status and has led to a splitting into 24 species: Great Albatrosses Diomedea (7 species), the Northern (Pacific) Albatrosses Phoebastria (4 species), the southern Mollymawks Thalassarche (11 species) and the Sooty Albatrosses Phoebetria (2 species). Recently this taxonomy is challenged by who proposed to lump some of the ‘species’ again based on their molecular analysis. Since then the discussion flared up and has not ended yet. Some list six species of Great Albatrosses, including two subspecies of Antipodian Albatross.

Physical charateristics

Medium-sized, black-and-white albatross with pale yellow iris. Black triangle around eye reaches base of bill. Adult, white head, neck, rump, underparts. Black upperwing, back, tail. White underwing with broad black edging. Yellow bill, becoming orange at tip. Juvenile, brown-grey bill with black tip, dark eyes, partial or complete band extending from mantle around chest, more extensive black on underwing. Similar spp. Black-browed Albatross T. melanophrys has less extensive eyebrow, dark eye, less black on underwing. Grey-headed Albatross T. chrysostoma has grey head and yellow-ridged bill

wingspan min.: 210 cm wingspan max.: 240 cm
size min.: 85 cm size max.: 90 cm
incubation min.: 68 days incubation max.: 73 days
fledging min.: 120 days fledging max.: 140 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 1  


Pacific Ocean : Campbell Islands, NZ. Campbell Albatrosses occur in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic waters and in the subtropical South Pacific Ocean. They breed only on sub-Antarctic Campbell Island, south of New Zealand. Throughout the breeding season, breeding adults are generally found over the shelf waters surrounding New Zealand, whereas non-breeding birds often forage over the continental slopes around Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales. Their Pacific Oceanst-breeding northern dispersal is restricted to the temperate shelf waters of New Zealand, Australia and the central and western Pacific Islands


Campbell Albatross nests on ledges and steep slopes covered in low native grasses, tussocks and mud


This species breeds annually and is present in colonies from April to May. Eggs are laid from late September to early October, hatching mostly in early December and chicks fledge from mid April to early May. Mean annual productivity was 66% between 1984 and 1994. Mean adult survivorship was 94.5% between 1984 and 1995. Birds return to land at age 519 and the average age of first breeding is 10 years. The single egg is incubated for around 70 days. The chicks fledge after about 130 days after hatching

Feeding habits

It forages by surface-seizing and is probably capable of shallow dives. It feeds mainly on fish, also on squid, crustaceans, gelatinous organisms and carrion.

Video Campbell Albatross


copyright: Peter Fraser


This species is classified as Vulnerable because breeding is restricted to a single location, where it is susceptible to potential human impacts and stochastic events. Although numbers decreased steeply between the 1970s and 1980s owing to interactions with fisheries, the population is now thought to be increasing, although there has not been a census since 1996
Thalassarche impavida breeds only on the northern and western coastline of Campbell Island (111 km2) and the tiny offshore islet, Jeanette Marie, New Zealand. The total population was estimated to be 19000-26000 breeding pairs, with the most recent censuses in 1995-1997 giving an estimate of 24600 pairs. Numbers decreased steeply between the 1970s and 1980s: one colony declined at a rate of 5.9% per year between 1966 and 1981, and 10.5% per year between 1981 and 1984. However, numbers have been either stable or increasing slightly since 1984,with a 1.8% increase recorded in selected colonies between 1992 and 1997. Its non-breeding range is confined to southern Australian waters, the Tasman Sea and the south Pacific Ocean. Breeding adults forage from South Island, New Zealand, and Chatham Rise southwards to the Ross Sea.
Campbell Albatross status Vulnerable


Once the chicks fledge, they fly north past New Zealand to the sub-tropical Pacific, and they later move round to the western Tasman Sea, where most of the adults spend the winter

Distribution map

Campbell Albatross distribution range map

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