October 6, 2016 – Waved Albatross (Phoebastria irrorata)
Breeding on Española Island, in the Galapagos, and probably Isla de la Plata, near Ecuador, these albatrosses spend the rest of their time at sea. They eat fish, squid, and crustaceans, often hunting at night when squid are closer to the water’s surface, and sometimes stealing food from other birds. Pairs perform elaborate courtship rituals, circling, bowing, and clacking their beaks together and usually remain with the same partner throughout their lives. Females lay a single egg in a depression on the ground, where it must be incubated for about two months. Both parents feed the chicks, leaving them in nursery groups at two weeks of age while they are out fishing. Young albatrosses spend their first six years at sea before returning to their breeding islands to find a mate. Classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN, they are threatened by longline fishing, water pollution, the ingestion of contaminants, some hunting by humans, and chance disasters on their breeding islands.