What is the World's Largest Species of Albatross?

The wingspan of the wandering albatross can reach almost 12 feet!
The wingspan of the wandering albatross can reach almost 12 feet!

Albatross are large seabirds that have been classified under the Diomedeidae family. The albatross birds have been ranked as the largest flying birds and have the longest wingspans among all the extant birds. The wandering albatross species is the largest albatross species.

The World's Largest Flying Birds

These seabirds are commonly found in the Northern Pacific region and the Southern Ocean. Despite the existence of fossils in the Northern Atlantic region, albatross have been absent in this region for a long time. The most striking feature of these birds is their ability to float in the air even during the windy weathers. They can stay aloft in the air for extended periods of time without actually flapping their wings; however, the albatross birds find it difficult to stay air-bone when the weather is calm. Therefore, these birds prefer to rest on the surface of waters.

The albatross birds are known to feed majorly on squid. They are also observed to follow ships to feed on garbage. According to a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are 22 species of the albatross birds. The albatross species is wholly endangered, according to this report. Three of these species have been listed as being critically endangered, five of them are endangered, seven of these species have been classified as being nearly threatened, while the remaining seven are vulnerable to extinction. 

The Wandering Albatross

The wandering albatross (Diomedea exulans) is the largest member of the albatross family. Apart from being the largest species of the albatross birds, this bird has also been classified as one of the largest birds in the world. These birds have the largest wingspan, ranging from 8.23 to 11.8 feet.

It is also one of the bird species that has been extensively studied by scientists. Their ability to float in the air without flapping the wings has led to scientists believing that future drones will have great ability to fly deep into the winds. These birds can be observed to move around in the Southern Ocean three times in a year. 

They are mainly found on New Zealand's Kaikoura Peninsula, Tasmania's Macquarie Islands, South Africa's Prince Edward Islands, and the Crozet Islands and Kerguelen Islands, both overseas territories of France located in the southern Indian Ocean.

This species spends a significant percentage of their life in flight. It is a little bit difficult to calculate the total distance traveled by these birds; however, one bird was recorded to have traveled around 600 km in twelve days. The life span of these species of bird is approximated to be fifty years. The wandering albatross birds are known to breed after every two years. The common breeding area is the Sub-Antarctic Islands.

Both parents are responsible for taking care of the chick during the development stage. During this stage, both parents take turns sitting on the nest while the other is out looking for food. However, after some time, both parents go out to look for food and come back to the nest at irregular intervals. These birds are known to feed mostly on crustaceans, cephalopods, and small fish.


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