The Bird Book/Albatrosses



Albatrosses are the largest of the sea birds and have an enormous expanse of wing, the Wandering Albatross, the largest of the family, sometimes attaining an expanse of fourteen feet. Their nostrils consist of two slightly projecting tubes, one on each side near the base of the bill. They are unsurpassed in powers of flight, but are only fair swimmers and rarely, if ever, dive, getting their food, which consists of dead animal matter, from the surface of the water.



Range. North Pacific from California northward. This Albatross is thirty-two inches in length; it is of a uniform sooty brown color shading into whitish at the base of the bill, which is rounded. Like the other members of the family, this species is noted for its extended flights, following vessels day after day without any apparent period of rest, for the purpose of feeding on the refuse that is thrown overboard. They breed during our winter on some of the small isolated islands in the extreme southern portions of the globe. They lay a single white egg on the bare ground.



Range. North Pacific Ocean in summer, from Lower California to Alaska. With the exception of the Wandering Albatross, which is now regarded as doubtful as occurring off our coasts, the Short-tailed Albatross is one of the largest of the group, measuring thirty-six inches in length, and has an extent of seven feet or more. With the exception of the black primaries, shoulders and tail, the entire plumage is white, tinged with straw color on the back of the head. They breed on the guano islands in the North Pacific off the coasts of Alaska and Japan. They lay a single white egg on the bare ground or rocks. As with the other members of the family, the eggs are extremely variable in size, but average about 4.25x2.50.



82.1. LAYSAN ALBATROSS. mutabilis.

Diomedea im

Laysan Albatross

Yellow-nosed Albatross Sooty Albatross

Range. Laysan Island of the Hawaiian Group, appearing casually off the coast of California. This species breeds in large numbers on the island from which it takes its name. The birds are white with the exception of the back, wings and tail, which are black. The birds, having been little molested in their remote island, are exceedingly tame, and it is possible to go among the sitting birds without disturbing them. Mr. Walter K. Fisher has contributed an admirable report on this species in the 1913 Bulletin of the Fish Commission, the report being illustrated with numerous illustrations of the birds from photos by the author. Their single white eggs are laid on the bare ground.


Tlialassogeron culminatus.

This is a species which inhabits the South Pacific and Indian Oceans, and is said to rarely occur on the California coast. They breed during our winter on some of the small islands and during our summer are ocean wanderers. An egg in the collection of Col. John E. Thayer was taken on Gough Island, South Atlantic Ocean; Sept. 1st, 1888. The nest was a mound of mud and grass about two feet in height. The single white egg measured 3.75 x 2.25. It was collected by George Comer.

84. SOOTY ALBATROSS Phoebetria-palpebrata.

Range. Southern seas, north in our summer along the Pacific coast of the United States.

This species is entirely sooty brown except the white eyelids. It is similar to the Black-footed Albatross from which species it can be distinguished in all plumages by the narrow base of the bill, while the bill of the former species is broad and rounded. They breed commonly on isolated islands in many quarters of the southern hemisphere. Sometimes this species constructs a mound of mud on which to deposit its single white egg, and also often lays it on the bare ground or rock. A specimen in Mr. Thayer's collection, taken by Geo. Comer on So. Georgia Is. in the South Atlantic ocean, was laid in a hollow among loose stones on the ledge of an overhanging cliff. Size 4.10 x 2.75.