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The Waved Albatross

The Waved Albatross (Diomedea irrorata, albátros) is the largest bird that breeds in Galápagos, with a wingspan of almost 2.5 meters. It has brown upper parts and wings with gray, waved bars (hence its name), a white neck, a cream-colored nape, and a handsome yellow beak. Males are a bit larger and have a thicker eyebrow than females.

There are about 12,000 monogamous pairs of waved albatrosses that fly back and forth from the Ecuadorian coast and northern Peru to their only breeding ground in Galapagos, Punta Suarez (Española).

The males return first to the Galápagos in late March or early April and wait for the arrival of their mates, at which time they begin an elaborate courting ritual: pairs dance with each other in an awkward waddle, move their necks up and down in rhythm, clack and encircle their bills, and raise their bills skyward with an abrupt guttural release, reminiscent of a cow’s moo. Albatrosses perform this unforgettable courtship display before, during, and after they lay their eggs, so you can witness it from mid-April to as late as November.

Albatrosses are expert flyers, but they require a significant amount of space and energy to get airborne. Often, you can see them (especially juveniles) jump off nearby cliffs and catch offshore winds as a method for getting their massive physiques in flight. Albatrosses usually live with their pairs for 45 to 50 years, sometimes up to 70 years.

Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to The Galápagos Islands: Sea Birds - Galápagos, Galapagos Ecology and Ecotourism , Punta Suarez, Introduced Species in Galapagos, Gardner Bay/Tortuga Rock Visitor Site, Planning your Galapagos Trip, More Isabela Visitor Sites, The Islanders Take Over, Shore Birds - Galapagos and Brown Pelican.

04 Jun 2007

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