Phoebastria albatrus |
This is a group of large to very large birds with very long narrow wings. The beak is large, strong and sharp-edged, the upper mandible terminating in a large hook. The feet have no hind toe, and the three anterior toes are completely webbed.
Albatrosses travel huge distances using a technique used by many long-winged seabirds called dynamic soaring. This enables them to minimise the effort needed by gliding across wave fronts.
Their principal food is cephalopods.
Current thinking divides the albatrosses into four genera:
- North Pacific albatrosses (Phoebastria)
- Laysan Albatross P. immutabilis
- Black-footed Albatross P. nigripes
- Galapagos Albatross P. irrorata
- Short-tailed Albatross P. albatrus
- Great albatrosses (Diomedea)
- Royal Albatross D. epomophora
- Wandering Albatross D. exulans
- Amsterdam Albatross D. amsterdamensis
- Mollymawks (Thalassarche)
- Yellow-nosed Albatross T. chlororhynchos
- Buller's Albatross T. bulleri
- Shy Albatross T. cauta
- Grey-headed Albatross T. chrysostoma
- Black-browed Albatross T. melanophris
- Sooty albatrosses (Phoebetria)
- Dark-mantled Sooty Albatross P. fusca
- Light-mantled Sooty Albatross P. palpebrata.
Both the British Ornithologists' Union and the South African authorities split the albatrosses into four genera as indicated in the table. (Ibis (2002) 144 p707-710.)