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Laysan Albatross

Phoebastria immutabilis / Mō‘lī
Laysan Albatross 520x289

Mō‘lī have a white head, neck, and underbody with black mantle and upperwings. The underwings have black margins and irregular streaks on converts. They have a dark eye patch, their bill varies from gray to yellow with darker tip, and they have pink legs/feet.

Primarily nocturnal feeders, they are surface feeders, seizing prey with a hooked bill. They feed on anything that floats on the surface of the water; squid, fish, crustaceans and flying fish eggs. Inadvertently they consume floating plastic.

They usually stay at least 20 to 30 kilometers offshore during the nonbreeding months (July - October). During these months they are distributed throughout the northwestern and northeastern range of the Pacific.

They are monogamous. If one of the mates should die, they will most likely create a new pair bond. Nests are made up of surrounding grasses, dirt, or shrubbery and are piled into large mounds that form a nest cup. Laying begins in mid-November. One egg is laid and incubation lasts about 63 days. Incubation starts with the female who usually stays for a short two-day span. The male then takes over for as long as three weeks. During the month of December, the number of incubating males outnumber the incubating females 15:1. If the egg is infertile or breaks during incubation, re-laying will not occur.

Chicks hatch during at the end of January into the beginning of February. Chicks live off a diet of flying fish eggs and squid oil, a product that is rich in fat. Both parents will feed the chick by regurgitation and will often leave them for several days while they obtain food out at sea. The rich squid and stomach oil is filled with fatty acids and nutrients that can sustain a chick for the number of days between feedings. Parents feed the chick until a few weeks before the chick fledges. Fledging occurs 5-6 months after hatching (mid-June through late July).

Sub-adults return to their natal nesting colony after spending 3 - 5 years at sea. Elaborate courtship dances take place throughout the colony while these young birds search for a mate. Mating and first nesting usually occurs by age 6-8 years.

Facts About Laysan Albatross

Diet
Laysans are surface feeders and feed primarily at night. They feed on anything that floats on the surface of the water; squid, fish, crustaceans and flying fish eggs. Unfortunately, this inludes marine debris as well; with an estimated 5 tons of plastic being accidently fed to chicks each year.   

Life Span
12-40 years  

Size
Length: 79-81 cm (31.6-32.4 in); wingspan: 195-203 cm (6.4-6.7 ft)   

Page Photo Credits — Laysan Albatross at sunset, USFWS
Last Updated: Dec 04, 2013
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