Common Name: Southern Royal Albatross

Scientific Name: Diomedea epomophora

 

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Aves

Order: Procellariiformes

Family: Diomedeidae

Genus: Diomedea

Species: D. epomophora

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The Southern Royal Albatross has a length of 115-123 cm (45-48 in) and a weight is 10 kg (21 lb).The wingspan is around 3.5 m (9 ft). The Southern Royal Albatross has a white head and body, upper wing mostly brown black with an area of white at the leading edge. The birds have nasal passages that attach to the upper bill called the naricorns. Their nostrils are on the side of their bills. Also, these birds produce a stomach oil that they use against their predators but they also use it to feed to their chicks and depend on it as adults when on their long flights. Their average life is about 42.3 years.

Nearly 80 percent of a Royal Albatross' life is spent directly exposed to the cold, open oceans of the Southern Hemisphere. They range along the southern oceans concentrating on the west and east coast of southern South America, and also in the waters surrounding New Zealand.  The largest area containing these birds is Campbell Island, then Adams Island and Auckland Island. They usually only go to land where the tussock grasslands can be used for nesting. They will nest on slopes, ridges and flat ground.  They make a living by eating squid and fish, along with small amounts of crustaceans, salps and carrion. They like to steal food from other birds as well.

The total population of these birds is 28,000 to 29,500. The numbers are starting to come up again as conservation efforts are helping the population. Pigs and cats, of all animals, have been a big reason that the population of Albatross has gone down. They take the chicks and eggs and dispose or eat them. These birds are not considered to be extinct but they are called Vulnerable. This is close to the same thing but not quite.  These birds only lay one egg every two years so there is not as many young being hatched as there is with other birds. Also, both mom and dad bird carry out the chore of raising and nesting with the young.

As  I  mentioned before, the Southern Royal Albatross’ make a living by eating squid and fish, along with small amounts of crustaceans, salps and carrion. They like to steal food from other birds as well.  When they are competing for food, they can be found many times around fishing boats. Croaking, shrieking, and gargling sounds are the most common sounds made during competition for food. As a threat to intruders, clapping the bill quickly and repeatedly can produce a highly characteristic rattling sound. They compete with similar birds and human for food. They get caught in fishing nets a lot because they are trying to get the fish that the humans have netted for their own food use

The Royal Albatross is stalked by pigs and cats on the islands where they nest. Many chicks are eaten by these animals.  These birds get caught in fishing nets and are killed in the process. Other mammals also eat the birds.  However, the Royal Albatross has gained worldwide praise and many birdwatchers love to watch them fly. Because of this, it is a serious offense to kill one of them on purpose. They evade being eaten mainly by flight but they spend most of their time out floating on the ocean water so land predators have a limited time to try to eat them.

When I began the report, I never would have guessed that a bird like it could fly so fast. I found out that they fly about 100,000 miles a year and can go as fast as 70 miles per hour. When they take off, they must flap and flap to get enough wind speed to get off the ground and then when it comes time land, they are not too graceful. They have been known to have some pretty scary crash landings. I think the birds are very similar looking to sea gulls but are prettier in a way. I liked finding out more about the Southern Royal Albatross and hope the information I have given will help others learn more about this bird.

Author: Taryn F.
Published: 3/2010

Sources:
Jason LaGosh, University of Michigan
http://www.eol.org/pages/1049161?category_id=70 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Royal_Albatross#Feeding
Author: Jacob Van Der Land
http://www.marinespecies.org/aphia.php?p=taxdetails&id=344000
Encyclopedia Britannica, Copy right 2010, Royal Albatross