Wandering albatross: description, origin of the name, lifestyle, habitats

Wandering albatross: description, origin of the name, lifestyle, habitats
Wandering albatross: description, origin of the name, lifestyle, habitats

The most legendary sea bird, of course, can be called an albatross. In the family to which it belongs, there are only about twenty species. But the wandering albatross is distinguished by the size and length of the wing. He earned fame thanks to his love for long-distance travel over the sea surface. The bird itself is very amazing, let's get to know it better.

albatross bird

Why is the wandering albatross called that?

It is believed that the name of the bird was invented by Spanish sailors in the fifteenth century. Back then they called all big birds alcatrazes. The English, on the other hand, pronounced the word in their own way, and it sounded like "albatross". The name stuck everywhere.

Due to physiological characteristics, the wandering albatross spends most of its life in flight. The origin of the name is connected precisely with this fact. Very often you can see how the bird accompanies steamboats. And indeed, the albatross behaves like a real one.wanderer, constantly wandering from one sea to another, and only occasionally lands on oceanic islands.

What does a wandering albatross look like?

Adult birds are completely white, except for small black patches on the back of the wings. Juveniles are somewhat different in appearance. Chicks have brown plumage, which fades and becomes white only with time. Echoes of the "young" coloration are usually found on the chest as a small strip.

wandering albatross

Albatross fluff covers the body with a continuous and dense layer. The plumage is light and warm, in physical properties close to that of a swan. As a rule, the paws are pale pink in color, and the eyes have a dark brown tint. The beak is powerful, making the wandering albatross look intimidating to some birds.

The description of eyewitnesses is simply amazing. Some travelers say that the albatross is almost the size of a person. And indeed, the body in length reaches almost 120 centimeters. But more amazing is the wingspan, which can be more than three meters!

Walker Albatross Habitats

Albatross can rightly be called a big and strong bird. She calmly flies a thousand kilometers over the water surface. Therefore, the native home can be considered not the land, but the oceans and seas. The habitat of this traveler is the waters adjacent to the icy Antarctica and the southern coasts of Africa, Australia and America. Individuals can be found in the Northern Hemisphere of the planet, but extremely rarely.

Wandering Albatross Food

As a rule, this bird prefers fish, crustaceans and cephalopods as food. The albatross catches them on the surface of the water or dives after them to a shallow depth. Most often he does this at night. This majestic bird loves to prey during a storm, as a lot of food is thrown ashore with waves.

wandering albatross food

The wandering albatross does not shy away from the garbage that is thrown from the ships. Therefore, very often you can see how this bird accompanies ships sailing far from the coast, hoping to intercept something edible. There are individuals that settle in fishing areas (for example, on the Patagonian shelf or the Falkland Islands). There, albatrosses, along with petrels, turn into commonplace scavengers and feed on the waste left from seafood production.

Albatross is a bird of prey, so there were quite bloodthirsty cases with a person. The dead people who tried to escape from the storm were found with mutilated faces and gouged out eyes. Experts confirmed that this was done by an albatross. One captain said that he witnessed the attack of this bird on a sailor. Such cases have happened, but are rather the exception.

Life in flight

As already mentioned, most of this bird's life is spent in flight. Every day, she can cover a distance of two hundred to a thousand kilometers. This fact is explained by physiological features. First of all, it is worth noting the hollowbones and air sacs, thanks to which the wandering albatross weighs very little. A wingspan of up to four meters is simply ideal in terms of aerodynamics.

wandering albatross wingspan

Such physiological features allow the albatross to use air currents during flight. Muscular efforts are practically not applied. The bird flaps its wings only during takeoff and landing, and soars the rest of the time. And this can go on for hours. The wandering albatross lands only for breeding. Above fifteen meters above the water does not rise. At low air temperatures and on calm days, it flies even lower. The bird loves storms very much and moves perfectly against the wind.

Ornithologists believe that a wandering albatross can easily overcome five thousand kilometers in ten days. Lifestyle - constant flights, and this is the norm for a traveling bird. One interesting case was described about a ringed individual. The albatross was released into the Tasman Sea, and six months later it was found off South Georgia. Approximately six months later, the bird was already encountered off the coast of Australia. Ornithologists believe that the wandering albatross can make several round-the-world trips in its lifetime.

Features of takeoff and landing

The wandering albatross is said to never land on water. Of course, this is a myth. All bird food (crustaceans, fish and mollusks) just lives in the water. Moreover, albatrosses even dive for it to a shallow depth.

wandering albatrossdescription

But this traveler tries not to land on the deck. This is explained by the fact that it is difficult for an albatross to rise into the air from a flat surface due to short legs and long wings. The same is true with taking off from the surface of the water in calm. An albatross wandering in such weather sits on the sea surface for a long time, rises into the air heavily and reluctantly. To do this, you have to work hard.

First, the bird picks up speed, pushing off the surface with its feet. Then it flies low over the sea surface, sometimes flapping its wings. And landed on the water again. So until it finally rises into the air.

Albatross landing is even more interesting to watch. The bird stretches its webbed feet forward and spreads its wings wide. Then he gently touches the water surface with his feet, raising the spray. So, as if on skis, the albatross glides for several meters, after which it gradually folds its wings.

Lifestyle of a travel bird

Albatross is a solitary bird, but only during nesting it gathers in colonies. The Wanderer prefers monogamous relationships, and therefore forms a couple for life. Relationships are broken if the partner dies or the chicks fail to hatch. Only then does the albatross look for another mate to procreate.

This traveler lives an average of twenty years. Some die as chicks from predators. But it is worth noting that there is information about individuals who lived to the age of fifty.

Features of the mating season

The lifespan of this bird is enoughlarge, but it does not have many descendants. It usually starts nesting no earlier than eight years old, and the next chicks hatch only after a few years.

albatross wandering name origin

The mating season starts in December when the colonies come together. The wandering albatross chooses warmer nesting habitats. These are the subantarctic islands, Macquarie, Kerguelen, Crozet and South Georgia. The nest is built on cliffs, rocky slopes and deserted shores, which are well blown by the wind.

Wandering albatrosses perform a special dance before mating. During it, females and males spread their wings wide, rub their beaks, bow and go towards each other. The ritual lasts a long time and ends with the head raised to the sky, emitting a loud cry.

The incubation period of the wandering albatross

Partners build a nest together. To do this, they use old structures or make new ones from grass, moss and flowers. The nest turns out to be rather big (about a meter wide and thirty centimeters deep). The wandering albatross lays only one egg, but quite large, half a kilogram in weight.

Incubation lasts eighty days. During this time, partners replace each other every two weeks. But still, mostly the male takes care of the nest. In search of food, he can leave the female for a month and fly several thousand kilometers. While hatching, birds can even lose about fifteen percent in weight.

Chick care

After hatching, the female andthe male watches him closely for a week. For the first twenty days, the parents feed the young albatross daily. Later they do it less often, but they give more food. Between feedings, the chick is left alone, so it often becomes prey for predators.

wandering albatross lifestyle

So the juvenile stays in the nest for another eight months. Of course, under such conditions, the wandering albatross cannot nest often. Usually these birds have offspring once every two years. Therefore, at the same time you can see how some partners feed chicks, while other couples only hatch eggs.

Once you see a wandering albatross, you will never forget it. The size and manner of flight are simply amazing and remain in memory forever.

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