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28 June 2014

Giants of the sky

Wandering Albatross (漂泊信天翁)
Pitcairn Islands (2014)
27th February, 2014. Pitcairn Islands

Wandering Albatrosses have the largest wingspan of any living bird, typically ranging from 2.5 to 3.5m and are capable of remaining in the air without flapping their wings for several hours. Spending most of their life in flight, their range is all the southern oceans from 28° to 60°. The length of the body averages 120 cm (with females being slightly smaller) and they weigh between 6.5 and 12kg. Plumage varies with age, with the juveniles starting chocolate brown changing to white bodies with black and white wings as adults. The large bill is pink, as are the feet. They also have a salt gland that is situated above the nasal passage and helps desalinate their bodies, due to the high amount of ocean water that they imbibe.

They can live for over 50 years and pairs of Wandering Albatrosses mate for life and breed every two years. Breeding takes place on sub-Antarctic islands and one egg is laid usually on an exposed ridge near the sea. During the early stages of the chick's development the parents take turns to sit on the nest while the other searches for food. They are night feeders and feed on cephalopods, small fish and crustaceans and on animal refuse that floats on the sea.

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