Skip Navigation

Black-footed Albatross

Phoebastria nigripes / Ka‘upu
Black-footed albatross

Dusky brown body and mantle with white border around base of bill and under tail; black feet.

Black-foots usually stay at least 20-30 kilometers offshore during the non-breeding months (July - November). During these months birds are distributed throughout the northwestern and northeastern Pacific.

Black-footed albatross are monogamous. If one of the mates should disappear or die, a new pair bond is created. Nests are made up of pieces of surrounding grasses, sand, or shrubbery. Black-foots like to nest in more open, less vegetated areas as compared to Laysans. The majority of their nests are located near beaches. Breeding begins in early November. One egg is laid and incubation lasts about 65 days. Both male and female incubate the egg. Incubation starts with the females who usually stay for a short two day span. The male then takes over, sometimes as long as three weeks. If the egg is infertile or breaks during incubation, relaying will not occur during that year.

Black-footed chicks begin to hatch in mid-January. Chicks live on a diet of flying fish eggs and squid oil. Both adults feed the chick by regurgitation. The chick will peck at the lower beak of the parent which stimulates the parent to regurgitate. The rich squid and stomach oil is filled with fatty acids and nutrients that can sustain a chick for a number of days while the parent goes out to sea in search of more food. Fledging occurs 4-5 months after hatching (June and July). Similar to the Laysans, the parents will often leave before the chicks have reached their full juvenile plumage. Relying on their fat reserves, the chicks survive on land, practicing take-offs until they master flight. Sub-adults return to their natal colony when three years of age but do not mate and nest until at least age five. 

Facts About Black-footed Albatross

Diet
Daytime surface feeders - primarily flying fish eggs, which are easier to locate during the day. They also feed on squid and crustaceans. Unlike the Laysan albatross, whose retinas possess a high level of rhodopsin enabling better night vision, the black-foots have limited nocturnal vision.
Life Span
12-40 years
Size
Length: 64-74 cm 25.6.6-29.6 in); wingspan: 193-216 cm (6-7 ft)
Page Photo Credits — USFWS
Last Updated: Aug 29, 2013
Return to main navigation