Monday, November 22, 2010

Wandering Albatross

(Image Source)
The Wandering Albatross is one of many Albatross species found within the family Diomedeidae. What makes them special? They have the largest wingspan, with a tip to tip range of up to eleven feet! They are a circumpolar species, and can be found flying over the southern oceans.

Wandering Albatrosses are truly remarkable birds. Their narrow wings allow them to utilize the ocean winds and glide with very little effort for hours and hours. They can even lock their wings into a position for an extended period of time, which reduces further energy expenditure. Wandering Albatrosses spend most of their lives at sea, feeding off of fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans. They will sometimes come to rest in the water, but floating in such a position puts them in danger of being prey upon themselves.

(Image Source)
Every other year the Wandering Albatrosses  come ashore in colonies in order to breed and care for their young. Pairs mate for life, which can be an exceptionally long time with a lifespan of over fifty years. The Albatrosses return to the same beaches they were born at, mate in November, and then lay a single egg which hatches around March. The young chicks take an additional eight to nine months to fledge, and will themselves return to breed when they are seven or eight years old.

Wandering Albatrosses are a vulnerable species, with an estimated 27,600 mature birds.

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