Wandering Albatross (Diomedea exulans)


Class: Aves
Order: Procellariiformes
Family:    Diomedeidae
Size:    Length 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 m)   Wingspan: 9 to 13 feet (2.7 to 4 m)
Weight: 15 to 26 pounds (7 to 12 kg)
Diet: Squid, octopus, jellyfish, cuttlefish and crustaceans
Distribution: Southern oceans
Young:  One every other year
Animal Predators:  None
IUCN Status: Vulnerable
Terms: Young: Chick
Lifespan: Up to 80 years



·      Wandering albatrosses have the longest wingspan of any living bird.

·     Like many other sea birds, albatrosses drink seawater, expelling excess salt through their nostrils.

·     Wandering albatrosses fly up to 1,000 miles (1,609 km) per day.



Wandering albatrosses are mostly white, with black markings on the wings and a pink bill with a hook at the tip. Both females and males are similar in appearance, although males are slightly larger and females have brown spots.  



Wandering albatrosses are found in southern oceans of the world, and breed on islands near the Antarctic Circle. The farthest north these birds have been spotted has been along the coast of California, but this is a rare occurrence.


Feeding Habits

Feeding mainly at night, wandering albatrosses catch their prey by landing on the sea and scooping it from the surface with their large bills.  These birds can often be found following ships, attracted by the waste food that is stirred up by the propellers or thrown overboard.



Although wandering albatrosses are usually solitary, they rejoin their mates every other November at their bowl-shaped nest made of mud, grass and moss on the ground. Each time they get together, the mates engage in elaborate rituals in which they loudly greet each other, flap their wings and touch beaks. Females lay a single white egg in December, and both parents take turns incubating the large egg (0.5 kg /1 lb). The chick emerges almost three months later, and the parents take turns guarding it and feeding it pre-digested fish. Chicks begin to grow their flight feathers at three months, but will stay with the parents for approximately 10 months. When chicks leave to venture out on their own, they may stay at sea for years because wandering albatrosses do not begin to breed until they are seven to 15 years of age, when they return to their birth island to find a mate. They continue to breed until the age of 50.



Wandering albatrosses are graceful and agile fliers and gliders, spending more than 90 percent of their lives over the ocean. They can reach speeds of up to 110 kph (68 mph), and may soar for hours without flapping their wings. However, because they do not spend much time on land (albatrosses may go for years without touching land), they tend to make clumsy landings and walk with an awkward gait. They usually land on water instead, to swim or rest.



The Macquarie Island population of Wandering Albatrosses was listed as endangered under the Australian Endangered Species Protection Act. Wandering albatrosses have been made vulnerable due to the depletion of fish supply, dangers associated with fishing equipment and ingestion of waste products. Five of the 13 species of albatross are considered “threatened with extinction.”








Wandering Albatross Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US