Bird Families

Albatross, seabird


Do you think seawater is home and food for fish and underwater mammals? Here is an albatross - a seabird that is so strongly attached to the blue waters that it gets out on land only to continue its race.

White-backed albatross (Phoebastria albatrus).

It seems that man has explored all corners of our vast planet, and now observe and put some species in the Red Book. But it turns out that there are many more species of plants and animals on Earth that we know very little about.

Wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) next to the small tube-nosed cape dove.

More recently, researchers have been able to study amazing creatures - albatrosses. Far from land you can find these creatures, for hours they accompany steamers, as if tied to them soar, and do not even flap their wings.

The wings of a wandering albatross are comparable to those of a small, single-seat aircraft.

Albatrosses, petrels and ocean-dwellers are part of a special order - the tube-nosed ones. All these representatives have a characteristic feature - their nostrils are enclosed in horny tubes. Their plumage color is light, and the back and tips of the wings are dark. Young albatrosses will have adult "clothing" in the fourth year of life.

Light-mantled clouded albatross (Phoebetria palpebrata) on the island. South Georgia.

Albatrosses nest in the southern hemisphere; outside the nesting period, they can be found in all seas except the Arctic Ocean.

Albatrosses have earned their popularity and quite a lot of fame for their passion for travel. They are connected with land only by the period of nesting and reproduction. The rest of the time they hover over the ocean surface - they sleep, feed on the water and even drink sea water.

Galapagos albatrosses (Phoebastria irrorata) are the only species to breed at the equator.

Albatross appearance

The tube-nosed detachment is a densely built birds, many of them weigh up to twelve kilograms. Their body is covered with thick plumage, because they deal with water and they need reliable, warm and waterproof "clothes". Albatross' wings are long and very narrow, and some are very long.

The largest wandering albatross has a wing length of 3.7 meters. This is tantamount to the wings of a small, single-seat aircraft. The tail is varied in shape and not so large. The beak is small and ends in a curved hook. In the mouth they have horn protrusions that help to keep slippery prey - fish. Their legs are of moderate length, but in some species they are short. The floating membrane connecting the front three fingers is well developed. It is almost impossible to distinguish males and females by their appearance. The wings of albatrosses are designed in such a way that they allow the birds to use the currents of air rising from the surface of the ocean, so they do not fly, but soar.

The black-browed albatross (Thalassarche melanophris) hovers over the ocean waves.

Albatrosses are eternal wanderers who do not have a permanent habitat, covering the entire planet with their flights.

Breeding albatrosses and petrels

Despite such "homelessness" albatrosses nest in a strictly defined place, where they themselves were born. These are the Hawaiian, Japanese Galapogos and Falkland Islands.

Studies have shown that they are located no further than twenty-two meters from the place where they were born. For birds that have not seen land for years, this is phenomenal topographic memory and astounding accuracy.

Tristan albatross (Diomedea dabbenena) takes off from the surface of the water.

Albatrosses make nests on the ground and from the ground or from a pile of grass with a hole in the middle.

Galapagos albatrosses do not build nests at all; they sometimes even roll eggs in search of a better place.

The forage areas of the land are divided by birds of different sex during nesting. The males of the Tristan albatross fly away in search of food only to the west, the female only to the east.

Black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes).

The nesting period of albatrosses is very long - from 140 in small species to 280 days in a wandering albatross. During this time, the chick sheds twice and gains a lot of weight. Finally, there comes a time when the parents fly away from the nest forever, and the chick remains perfect alone. He sits for several days or weeks in the nest, then goes to the shore on his own, where he will develop the flaps of his wings. Chicks spend all this time in the water and are very vulnerable to sharks.

The albatross is studying the phaeton that is located nearby.

Albatross feeding

Different types of albatrosses forage in different places - some on land, others far in the ocean

Colony of black-browed albatrosses in the Falkland Islands. In the foreground, a couple is engaged in marriage courtship.

And the wandering albatross categorically avoids those places where the depth is less than 1000 meters. But for everyone it remains a mystery - how the bird determines the depth if it gets food only at the surface of the water.

Black-footed albatrosses on tiptoes perform a mating dance.

Albatrosses feed on crustaceans, squid, fish, but can also feed on carrion. They hunt down their prey from the air and grab with their beak right on the fly from the surface of the ocean. Albatrosses can dive to a depth of twelve meters in search of food.

A wandering albatross sings a mating song in front of a female.

The flight speed of albatrosses is from fifty to eighty kilometers per hour. At such high speeds, they can fly around the clock, covering up to eight hundred kilometers per day.

A female black-browed albatross with a chick.

The researchers tagged the albatrosses and learned that they circled the globe in forty-six days.

The giant wandering albatross chick spent almost a year in the nest.

Albatrosses are monogamous birds that remain faithful to their partner throughout their lives. They are looking for a couple for a very long time. For the first few years, they fly to the nesting sites, talk, but do not find pairs. Over time, they hone their skills, acquire sign language, learn ritual.

Remains of an albatross with plastic debris that the bird swallowed during life.

During the mating ritual, they touch the feathers of their chosen one, learn to turn their heads beautifully, loudly cackle, learn to flap their outstretched wings wide, snap their beaks, and grab a partner's beak.

Lakeside albatrosses (Phoebastria immutabilis) are forced to nest among the plastic debris that ends up even on remote uninhabited islands.

In complete calm, albatrosses have to make frequent flaps of their wings. During this period, they prefer not to rise into the air at all. They are considered a sign of trouble for sailors, if albatrosses appear, then - expect trouble - storms, storms. And the stronger the wind, the more tube-nosed birds you can see. Therefore, a whole group of tube-nosed birds is called petrels.

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