Amazing Albatross – Birds
Travel far from land, and you may be lucky enough to see an Albatross. These huge seabirds have the longest wings in the bird species world – the Wandering Albatross’ skinny wings reach over 11 feet from tip to tip.
Albatross soar gracefully over the ocean, without having to flap their wings. They ride the sea’s winds for months at a time, searching for their primary food: squid. They fly incredible distances: one albatross was recorded circling the entire globe in just 80 days.
Albatross are not so graceful on land. When they return to the islands where they nest, a landing may involve tumbling and somersaults. They can only take off by running into the wind – on calm days, the birds are grounded. Their ungraceful land antics earned them the nickname “Gooney-birds“.
Albatross nest colonially, on oceanic islands like the Galapagos, Midway Island, the Falklands, and small Hawaiian islands. The chicks grow slowly – it may take 6 months before it’s ready to fly. Their long stay on the islands made albatross easy prey for human hunters: many millions of albatross were killed in the 1900’s, for their eggs, meat, or feathers.
To feed the hungry chick, parent albatross sometimes travel far, leaving the nest for a week at a time. The Laysan Albatross sometimes commutes from Hawaii to Alaska, each week, searching for food to bring back to the nest.