|Diomedea||epomophora||PO||Campbell and Auckland islands, 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.
Listen to the sound of Southern Royal Albatross
[audio:http://www.planetofbirds.com/MASTER/PROCELLARIIFORMES/Diomedeidae/sounds/Southern Royal Albatross.mp3]
Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto
recorded by Frank Lambert
|wingspan min.:||305||cm||wingspan max.:||351||cm|
|size min.:||107||cm||size max.:||122||cm|
|incubation min.:||77||days||incubation max.:||81||days|
|fledging min.:||230||days||fledging max.:||250||days|
Video Southern Royal Albatross
copyright: Josep del Hoyo
The population is thought to be recovering after human predation, farming and introduced mammals caused reductions in all populations until the 1930s, extirpating the Enderby and Auckland Islands populations by the late 1800s2. Pigs and cats still take eggs and chicks on Auckland Island. On Campbell and Enderby Dracophyllum scrub is spreading, possibly due to climatic warming, and may reduce breeding habitat. A possible decrease in the population during the 1970s – early 1980s coincided with the peak in long-line fishing in the New Zealand region. Southern Royal Albatross are caught by longliners and trawlers in Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and off the east and west coasts of South America