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A photo of a Amsterdam Albatross (Diomedea amsterdamensis)
Amsterdam Albatross

Amsterdam Albatross

Diomedea amsterdamensis

The Amsterdam albatross, known scientifically as Diomedea amsterdamensis, is a majestic seabird with a commanding presence. It is distinguished by its chocolate brown upper parts and a contrasting white face mask, throat, lower breast, and belly. A broad brown breast band and brown undertail coverts complement its plumage. This species is notable for its impressive size, weighing between 4.8 to 8 kg and measuring 107 to 122 cm in length, with a wingspan stretching from 280 to 340 cm. The bill of the Amsterdam albatross is a delicate pink with a dark tip and cutting edges, while its underwings are predominantly white, save for the dark tip and leading edge.

Identification Tips

When identifying the Amsterdam albatross, look for the unique combination of its brown and white plumage, the pink bill with a darkened tip, and the distinctive dark leading edge on its underwings. Its size is also a key identifier, being one of the larger albatross species.

Habitat

The Amsterdam albatross is an island breeder, nesting exclusively on the high-altitude Plateau des Tourbières on Amsterdam Island, a remote location in the southern Indian Ocean.

Distribution

This albatross has a breeding range confined to Amsterdam Island within the French Southern Territories. Its non-breeding distribution remains somewhat enigmatic, with potential sightings reported as far afield as Australia and New Zealand.

Behaviour

The Amsterdam albatross is known to traverse vast distances across the Indian Ocean, particularly during the incubation stage of breeding. Its diet consists of squid, crustaceans, and fish. The exact details of its feeding ecology and at-sea distribution are still being uncovered due to the bird's rarity.

Breeding

Breeding biennially, the Amsterdam albatross chooses the open marshy terrain for nesting. Both parents share the responsibility of incubating the egg, with the chick emerging after approximately 80 days. The chick is then brooded for a month and takes about 230 days to fledge. Initially, the chick is fed every three days, with the frequency decreasing as it nears fledging. The chick will often weigh more than its parents at the peak of weight gain before slimming down as it develops feathers. After fledging, the young albatross will remain at sea for around five years before returning to the colony to breed.

Conservation status

The Amsterdam albatross is classified as Endangered by the IUCN. Its occurrence range is vast, yet its breeding range is limited to a mere 7 km². The population has seen a modest increase from five to eighteen to twenty-five breeding pairs since its discovery, thanks to dedicated conservation efforts. However, the species faces threats from habitat degradation due to introduced species and diseases, as well as dangers from longline fishing practices at sea.

Diet and Feeding

The Amsterdam albatross primarily feeds on squid, crustaceans, and fish. It is an adept forager, capable of covering extensive areas of the ocean in search of sustenance.

In the voice of David Attenborough: "In the vast expanse of the southern Indian Ocean, the Amsterdam albatross soars with a grace that belies its size. This enigmatic bird, with its striking dichotomy of brown and white plumage, remains a sentinel over the remote and windswept landscapes it calls home. Each glide and swoop over the waves is a testament to the resilience required to survive in such isolated climes. Yet, even as it masters the air currents above the sea, the Amsterdam albatross faces the ever-growing shadow of human influence, reminding us of our duty to safeguard these avian mariners for generations to come."

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Amsterdam Albatrosses on Birda

Photos

More Albatrosses

A photo of a Antipodean Albatross (Diomedea antipodensis)

Antipodean Albatross

Diomedea antipodensis
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