Laysan Albatross

Phoebastria immutabilis
Laysan albatross (gooney bird)

Laysan albatross have a white head, neck, and underbody, black mantle and upperwings. Underwings have black margins and irregular streaks on converts. They have a dark eye patch and their bill varies from gray to yellow with darker tip; pink legs/feet. The species favor the open ocean and are rarely seen near land, with the exception of breeding. 

Laysans are monogamous, however, if their mate 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 late November. One egg is laid and incubation lasts 63-66 days. Incubation starts with the female who usually stays for a short 2-day span. The male then takes over for as long as three weeks. During the month of December the number of incubating males outnumber that of incubating females 15:1. If the egg is infertile or breaks during incubation, re-laying will not occur that year. 

Chicks hatch during late January to mid-February and 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. Fledging occurs 5-6 months after hatching (mid-June through late July). Parents will often leave before the chicks have reached their full juvenile plumage.

On Wake Atoll traditional nesting areas include the northern end of the eastern side of the runway and the MDA area near Peacock Point.


Facts About Laysan Albatross

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 includes marine debris as well; with an estimated 5 tons of plastic being accidently fed to chicks each year. 
Life Span
12-40 years
Length: 79-81 cm (31.6-32.4 in); wingspan: 195-203 cm (6.4-6.7 ft)