Did you know that albatrosses are the largest seabirds in the world? And that they can fly for up to two weeks without landing? Here are nine more amazing facts about these incredible creatures.
1. Biggest Wingspan
Albatrosses have the biggest wingspan of any bird in the world. Their wings can span up to 11 feet from tip to tip, and they can weigh up to 25 pounds. This makes them very efficient gliders, and they are able to stay aloft for hours at a time.
2. Longest Flight
The albatross is known for its epic long-distance flights. The wandering albatross has the longest recorded flight of any bird, traveling up to 12,000 miles in a single journey. Albatrosses can fly for hours at a time, riding the updrafts and winds to travel great distances with very little effort.
3. Unusual Underwater Survival
Albatrosses spend most of their lives aloft, but albatross chicks will call out when they’ve had enough and need to be fed. Once on land, albatross parents leave them in a crèche to sleep while the adults go fishing. If caught in rough weather, albatross chicks can suffocate from inhaling salt water through their nostrils. To ensure that doesn’t happen, albatross nests are built on land away from large bodies of water.
4. Global Threats
Today albatrosses face a number of threats worldwide. The population is declining due to habitat loss through human development, fishing gear that albatrosses incidentally eat or get caught in, and oil spills. There are also albatross species that are considered threatened under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.
Albatrosses spend most of their lives aloft, but albatross chicks will call out when they’ve had enough and need to be fed. Once on land, albatross parents leave them in a crèche to sleep while the adults go fishing.
5. One Way Ticket
Albatrosses don’t usually build nests; instead albatross couples will often choose to lay an egg on top of a mound of dirt, a clump of grass or on the ground. Albatross chicks will spend several months in a large nest until they can fly and hunt for themselves. The albatross may stay with its parents for up to a year after fledging.
6. Most Diverse Family
There are 22 albatross species in the albatross family, and albatrosses are found in all oceans of the world. The albatross family is one of the most diverse families within the animal kingdom.
7. Bill Structure
Albatrosses feed by snatching prey from mid-water or by scavenging dead animals floating on the surface of water. Sometimes albatrosses even catch fish from under the water surface with their bills. The upper mandible of albatrosses is hooked pointy and it can be opened wide.
8. Shaggy Feathers
Albatross feathers look shaggy and appear to be uncombed, but it’s actually a useful adaptation for an albatross. If albatrosses had smooth feathers, they would travel more slowly through the air. By having shaggy feathers albatross travel more quickly through the air with less effort!
9. Long Life
Albatrosses are long-lived birds that can live to 60 years or even older! The albatross is a symbol of fidelity and longevity, which is why albatrosses always stay close to their breeding partner for the rest of their lives.