Pairs of Wandering Albatrosses mate for life and breed every two years. Breeding takes place on subantarctic islands and commences in early November. The nest is a mound of mud and vegetation, and is placed on an exposed ridge near the sea. During the early stages of the chick's development, the parents take turns to sit on the nest while the other searches for food. Later, both adults hunt for food and visit the chick at irregular intervals.
Albatross eats flying fish eggs, crustaceans, shrimp, and squid. It usually feeds in the early morning and at twilight.
Commercial fishing practices are considered the greatest threat to the survival of many albatross species. Other threats include loss of habitat, introduced predators, eating or becoming tangled up in plastic, oil spills and climate change.
Often called Gooney Birds because of their lack of fear of humans. These birds survived the plume hunters, World War II and the Navy during the post war years.
There are at least 8 species of fossil Albatross which have been named. These fossils go as far back in time to about 60 MYA (million years ago). Fossil albatross have been found in England and USA and Japan, indicating that they once had a northern distribution which is believed to have ended 20 MYA when the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans ceased to meet in the Panama. The problem is the practically windless bit of ocean at the Equator called the doldrums which forms an effective barrier to birds which are dependent on wind to allow them to fly long distances. Surprisingly, none of the extinct Albatrosses were as large as the modern Wandering Albatross. Occasionally a Back-crowned Albatross will discover a way across the doldrums and find itself trapped on the northern side of the Equator.
The only dark albatross of the northern Pacific Ocean, the Black-footed Albatross nests primarily on the Hawaiian Islands. It wanders widely across the northern Pacific for most of the year, and is regularly seen off the west coast of North America.
A bird that lives as long in legends as it does life: The Albatross remains one of most majestic of all of the Antarctic birds. This rather stunning bird can be traced as far back as the time of the first modern mammals, over 50 million years. And with an average life span of 50 years that's a lot of birds. Though as a species they aren't so lucky, endangered the world over mostly as a result of human practices. These birds have come to be greatly respected, and have even become symbols of luck.
An albatross aloft can be a spectacular sight. These feathered giants have the longest wingspan of any bird—up to 11 feet (3.4 meters)! The wandering albatross is the biggest of some two dozen different species. Albatrosses use their formidable wingspans to ride the ocean winds and sometimes to glide for hours without rest or even a flap of their wings. They also float on the sea's surface, though the position makes them vulnerable to aquatic predators. Albatrosses drink salt water, as do some other sea birds.
In 1887 a dead wandering albatross washed up on an Australian beach with a message inscribed on a rough metal band around its neck, telling of 13 shipwrecked sailors stranded on the Crozet Islands, nearly 5000 kilometers (3000 miles) to the west. The bird had left the islands just 45 days earlier. Taking far longer than that to send a search party, the would-be rescuers found only an abandoned camp, but this was the first indication of the extraordinary travels that wandering albatrosses routinely undertake. Satellite telemetry has since provided us with far greater insights, but the results remain astounding. Some albatrosses appear to triangulate the open ocean with suck precision they return to known haunts time and again, whereas others may wander freely from one ocean basin to another and back again, undeterred by the prevailing westerly winds.
An Albatross is a great symphony of flesh, perception, bone, and feathers, composed of long movements and set to ever-changing rhythms of light, wind, water. The almost overwhelming musicality of an albatross in air derives not just from the bird itself but from the contrapuntal suite of action and inaction from which this creature composes flight. It drifts in the atmosphere at high speed, but itself remains immobile--an immense bird holding stock-still yet shooting through the wind.