Black-footed Albatross is a bird of the North Pacific, breeding on the
Hawaiian Island chain and on islands off the coast of Japan, but with
non-breeding birds wandering widely across the Pacific. They are similar to
other northern Hemisphere Albatross species with regard to breeding habits.
They mate for life, with pairs performing noisy courtship dances to reaffirm
pair bonds upon returning to their breeding grounds. Unlike other
species that often feed at night, Black-footed Albatross have relatively
poor night vision and primarily feed during the day. This may be due
to their preferred food item, flying fish eggs, while other albatross
species often prefer squid species that are closer to the surface at night.
Habitat: Found on sandy beaches and other open
habitats when breeding. In other seasons, they are found in the open
ocean, most commonly where upwelling currents concentrate prey items, but
typically far from shore.
Diet: Feeds on fish, squid, krill, flying fish
eggs, and sometimes
Behavior: Feeds by swimming on the ocean's
surface, dipping underwater or making short underwater dives to capture
Nesting: The Black-footed Albatross mates for
life. The nest of is a simple depression in the sand, placed on a high-spot
on a beach. The female lays one egg, and both parents incubate it for
the 2 month incubation period. Upon hatching, parents take turns
watching the youngster, and going out to forage for food.
Interactive eBird Map:
Click to access an interactive eBird map of Black-footed Albatross
Song: Has variable squeaking or moaning calls, and
also makes bill-snapping sounds on their breeding grounds.
Migration: Breeds on islands in the far
northwestern part of the Hawaiian Island chain, select islands off the coast
of Japan, and a few islands off the Mexican coast. Non-breeding birds
can be found roaming across the North Pacific at any season, but adult birds
in breeding condition do concentrate near breeding sites during most of the
Northern Hemisphere winter and spring (their breeding season).
Within its normal range, unlikely to be confused with other Albatross
species, each of which has significant white portions of their plumage.
Conservation Status: Populations steeply declined
in the 1800s due to the collection of eggs and adult birds for food. After
recovering somewhat in the first half of the 20th century, the species again
began to decline, particularly when longline fisheries began to be heavily
used in their feeding territories. Longline bycatch of the species has
declined somewhat in recent years, but
IUCN lists the Black-footed Albatross as a "Vulnerable" species.