Created on Day 5
April 12, 2012
With its large wings, the albatross uses wind currents to aid in extended flights. This bird utilizes a unique method of flight called dynamic soaring, usually only flapping its wings on takeoff and landing. In order to take off, the albatross takes a running start with outstretched wings. In calm weather, this bird floats in the ocean.
- The albatross is one of the largest flying birds with wings that are long and narrow.
- Depending on the species, the body is predominately white or light to dark gray.
- The bill is covered in plates and along the sides are two tubes, which are actually long nostrils.
- The wandering and royal albatrosses have the largest wingspan of any bird, up to 11 ft (3.4 m) from tip to tip.
- Albatrosses generally mate for life. This mate is usually selected after courtship “dances,” which include bill-circling, sky-pointing, and flank-touching.
- The albatross is among the most oceanic of all seabirds, and it seldom approaches land except to breed.
- Each year an albatross can cover a distance equivalent to flying around the earth at the equator three times.
- The heart of the wandering albatross actually beats slower during flight than when sitting on the sea.
CLASS: Aves (birds)
ORDER: Procellariiformes (tube-nosed seabirds)
FAMILY: Diomedeidae (albatrosses)
GENUS/SPECIES: Four genera with about 20 species
Size: 2–4 ft (0.6– 1.2 m); wingspan up to 11 ft (3.4 m)
Weight: 10–20 lbs (4.5–9 kg)
Diet: Fish, crustaceans, octopuses, and squid
Habitat: Southern hemisphere from Antarctica to Australia, South Africa, and South America; North Pacific, from Hawaii To Japan, California, and Alaska