Wandering albatross

The humongous bird with the largest wing span of 3.5 m (11.5 ft) – seems straight out of a fantasy movie

Vincent Legendre

These magnificent seabirds are renowned for their effortless gliding abilities, often seen soaring gracefully over vast expanses of water in search of food.

Despite their elegant aerial maneuvers, wandering albatrosses are not without their challenges when it comes to takeoff and landing. Their large wings and heavy bodies make these maneuvers somewhat clumsy, particularly in strong winds or turbulent conditions. However, once airborne, they are masters of flight, capable of covering immense distances with minimal effort.

Wandering albatrosses are opportunistic feeders, preying primarily on fish and squid. They are known to scavenge for food near fishing vessels, eagerly consuming any scraps or discarded catch they encounter. However, their voracious appetites can sometimes lead to overindulgence, resulting in a temporary inability to fly due to the weight of their full stomachs.

One of the most remarkable aspects of wandering albatross behavior is their lifelong monogamous partnerships. These birds form strong bonds with their mates, often lasting for decades. During the breeding season, pairs engage in elaborate courtship displays, including synchronized dances and vocalizations, to reaffirm their commitment to each other.

Breeding colonies of wandering albatrosses are typically found on remote islands in the Southern Ocean, where they nest on open ground or cliffs overlooking the sea. Females lay a single egg, which both parents take turns incubating until it hatches. The chick is then cared for by both parents, who work together to provide it with food and protection until it is ready to fledge.

As wandering albatrosses age, they undergo a transformation in their appearance. The distinctive black markings on their plumage fade over time, giving way to a predominantly white coloration. Despite this change, these birds remain as magnificent as ever, embodying the wisdom and resilience acquired over their long lives.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Angola
2018
Vagrant
Antarctica
2018
Non-Breeding
Argentina
2018
Non-Breeding
Australia
10 pairs
Official estimate
VU
2018
Breeding,Macquarie Island
Bouvet Island
2018
Seasonality Uncertain
Brazil
2018
Non-Breeding
Chile
2018
Non-Breeding
Falkland Islands
2018
Non-Breeding: Malvinas
Fiji
2018
Non-Breeding
French Polynesia
2018
Vagrant
French Southern T.
2,000 pairs
Official estimate
VU
2018
Breeding
Heard & McDonald
2018
Non-Breeding
Italy
2018
Vagrant
Japan
2018
Vagrant
Madagascar
2018
Non-Breeding
Mauritius
2018
Vagrant
Mozambique
2018
Non-Breeding
Namibia
2018
Non-Breeding
New Zealand
2018
Non-Breeding
Norfolk Island
2018
Non-Breeding
Panama
2018
Non-Breeding
Portugal
2018
Vagrant
Réunion
2018
Vagrant
Saint Helena
2018
Non-Breeding
South Africa
2018
Breeding
South Georgia
1,553 pairs
Official estimate
VU
2018
Breeding
Tonga
2018
Seasonality Uncertain
United States
2018
Vagrant
Uruguay
2018
Non-Breeding

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd / Colony

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No