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.
Listen to the sound of Laysan Albatross
Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto
|wingspan min.:||195||cm||wingspan max.:||203||cm|
|size min.:||81||cm||size max.:||83||cm|
|incubation min.:||63||days||incubation max.:||67||days|
|fledging min.:||150||days||fledging max.:||170||days|
9 years. Breeding season in Hawaii extends from November to July. Elaborate courtship “dance,” performed only by first-time breeders and pre-breeders, includes many movements including bowing head, mutual preening, swinging head f
rom side to side, pointing bill straight up while calling.
Nest: Site is on open ground, preferably close to taller vegetation. Nest (begun by female, finished by both sexes) is shallow depression in ground, surrounded by built-up rim.
Clutch 1. Creamy white, spotted with brown. Incubation (by both sexes) averages 64-65 days.
Young: For 12-24 days after egg hatches, one parent stays with young while other forages for food. Nestling fed by regurgitation, by both parents. Period from hatching to departure from island averages about 165 days.
Behavior: Forages by seizing prey near water’s surface while swimming. Does much feeding at night (when squid are closer to surface), and eyes are adapted for night vision.
Video Laysan Albatross
copyright: Curt Kessler
Most numerous off Alaska in summer, off California in winter. Strays found in interior of American Southwest are thought to be birds that moved north in Gulf of California and then attempted to continue north overland.