One of the world’s largest flying seabirds, the wandering albatross, is also one of the most far ranging birds. Some individual wandering albatrosses are known to circumnavigate the Southern Ocean three times in just one year. We bring you this incredible species as our Wildlife of the Week:

Species: Diomedea exulans

Class: Aves

IUCN Status: Vulnerable

Diet: Feed at sea, mainly on cephalopods and fish

Size: Wingspan, 2 – 3.4 metres

Behaviour: Satellite tracking data indicates that breeding birds travel at very long distances from colonies and that foraging strategies change throughout the breeding system. Rarely seen on land, gather only to breed

Distribution: Circumpolar distribution

Ecosystem: Typically forage in oceanic waters, however considerable time is spent over shelf areas during certain stages of the breeding system

5 Fast Facts:

  • These giant birds have the longest wingspan of any bird, up to 3.4 metres
  • Juvenile wandering albatrosses have chocolate-brown feathers and a white face mask but over time the white colouration expands, leaving only black edges of the wings and tail tip
  • Unusually amongst birds, albatrosses have tubular nostrils on either side of their upper bill
  • They can live into their sixties, some have even been recorded to live into their seventies
  • Albatrosses pair for life, but don’t practice monogamy: Almost all couples stick together until one part dies, however a study found that one female had sex with 49 partners over a seven-week period