Black-browed Albatross (Diomedea melanophris)


Class: Aves
Order: Procellariiformes
Family:    Diomedeidae
Size:    Length 2.6 to 3 feet (79 to 91 cm) Wingspan: 7 to 8 feet (2.1 to 2.5 m)
Weight: 6 to 11 pounds (2.72 to 5 kg)
Diet: Krill, squid, crustaceans, lampreys and other surface fish
Distribution: Southern oceans of the world, near the tip of South America, Australia and New Zealand. North Atlantic sightings are extremely rare
Young:  1 chick every other year
Animal Predators:  None
IUCN Status: Lower Risk, Near Threatened
Terms: Young: Chick
Lifespan: Up to 50 years



·     The black-browed albatross is one of the smallest albatrosses.  

·     Five of the 13 species of albatross are considered “threatened with extinction.”

·     Like many other sea birds, the albatross drinks seawater, expelling extra salt through its nostrils.



Black-browed albatrosses are mostly white, with black wings and an orange, hooked bill. Across the top of their eyes are dark streaks that make these birds seem as if they are frowning. Both the female and male are similar in appearance, although the male is slightly larger.



Black-browed albatrosses live solitary lives, flying thousands and thousands of miles before ever setting down on land. They fly over the southern oceans of the world and land on water when they need a rest. Every second September they rejoin their mates at their bowl-shaped nest made of mud, grass, seaweed and moss on a steep, rocky cliff. The nest is located in a colony, among the nests of other black-browed albatrosses as well as those of rock hopper penguins. 


Feeding Habits

Black-browed albatrosses fly approximately 50 to 65 feet above the ocean, where they can see their prey swimming just below the surface of the water. They also eat leftover food thrown from ships. 



Female black-browed albatrosses lay a single white egg in the nest in October, and both parents take turns incubating the large egg. The chick emerges in December, and the parents take turns guarding it from danger and feeding it pre-digested fish. It begins to learn to fly at three months, but will stay with the parents for up to 10 months. When the chick leaves to venture out on its own, it may stay at sea for years, because black-browed albatrosses do not begin to breed until they are seven years of age. They continue to breed until age 35.



Black-browed albatrosses are graceful and agile fliers and gliders. They can soar for hours without flapping their wings. However, because they do not  spend much time on land (some albatrosses may go for years without touching land), they tend to make clumsy landings, which earned them nicknames such as mollymawk and gooney. They usually land on water instead, to swim or rest. Although they can be social, they tend to live solitary lives except during breeding season. 



Black-browed albatrosses are listed as endangered under the Australian Endangered Species Protection Act of 1992. Although these birds once frequented the North Pacific, the demand for their feathers, mainly for use in women’s hats, resulted in the elimination of this population in the 19th century. Now, 85 percent of the world’s black-browed albatross population breeds on the Falkland Islands. Their numbers have suffered a 30 percent decrease in population in recent years. This decrease is partially due to the fact that black-browed albatrosses are lured by bait that turns out to be attached to fishhooks. Despite this, black-browed albatrosses are the most widespread of all albatrosses.



Black-browed Albatross Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, USA