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2012-01-30
Wandering Albatross benefit from climate change.


Researchers from the Centre d'Etudes Biologiques de Chizé (CEBC) have found that the Wandering Albatross has benefited from climate change.

Climate change is causing wind patterns to change in the Southern Ocean and as a result the higher wind speeds enable the Wandering Albatross of the Crozet Islands to travel more rapidly in search of food. The phenomenon has modified the distribution of these seabirds and improved their physical condition as well as their breeding success. However, this favourable situation is unlikely to last if these windy areas continue to move southwards.

The Wandering Albatross - Diomedea exulans – is one of the largest birds in the world. Wandering Albatrosses spend most of their life in flight, landing only to breed and feed. Distances travelled each year are hard to measure, but one banded bird was recorded travelling 6000 km in twelve days. It is the bird with the greatest wingspan of any living bird, averaging from 2.51 to 3.50 m or 8.2 to 11.5 ft. The longest-winged examples verified have been in the region of 3.7 m or 12 ft. They can live for over 50 years. Wandering Albatrosses spend most of their life in flight, landing only to breed and feed.

Description

The adult Wandering Albatross appears entirely white from a distance. Close up, the fine black wavy lines on the breast, neck and upper back become visible. The bill can vary in color, but is normally yellowish-pink. The white tail is occasionally tipped with black and the back of the wing changes from black to white with age. A series of plumage phases are passed through as young birds reach full adult plumage, which can take up to nine years. Females are slightly smaller than males.

Call

Braying, screams, whistles and grunts.

Food

They feed on squid/Inkfish, small fish, and crustaceans. They feed mainly at night and will follow fishing vessels during the day, scavenging scraps.  Galley refuse and floating waste also form part of the diet.

Breeding

The Wandering Albatross breeds every second year, in loose colonies on isolated islands in the Southern Oceans. One white egg with a few spots laid. Eggs are laid December to January and incubation takes about 11 weeks with both parents are involved. Adolescents return to the colony within 6 years but will not start breeding until 11 to 15 years

Conservation Status – Vulnerable

This species is undergoing a rapid population decline. The biggest threat to their survival is long line fishing, followed by pollution, mainly plastics and fishing hooks.

Bird watching

See these magnificent birds on a pelagic trip on one of the following Aves Birding Tours/Safaris/Adventures:-

Aves Western Cape Birding Tour / Safari / Adventure.

Aves West Coast Birding Tour / Safari /Adventure.

 

 

 


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