Reproductive biology Albatrosses -

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Reproductive biology Albatrosses

Birds > Group of birds > Albatrosses

Albatrosses usually build bowl-shaped nesting mounds with grasses and small shrubs bound together with soil, peat, or even penguin feathers where no vegetation is available. The waved albatross does not build nests, and the other northern Pacific albatrosses have very rudimentary ones that are rebuilt each season. Many Buller’s mollymawks and black-footed albatrosses nest under trees in open forest. Most mollymawks nest in tight colonies just out of pecking range from neighbors, and reuse previous nest mounds.

Laysan albatross

Albatrosses are generally monogamous and most are annual breeders. Albatrosses lay one large white egg with reddish brown spots at the largest end weighing 7.0–18.2 oz (200–510 g) ranging from 5 to 10% of female body weight. First eggs are narrower and lighter. Incubation lasts 65–85 days with both sexes sharing the incubation stints, which may range from one day to as long as 29 days according to species foraging methods and locations. Hatching takes 2–5 days. Immediately after hatching, during the brooding (guard) stage of chick growth (15–40 days), one parent remains with the chick at the nest.

Chicks fledge at 120–180 days for all small albatrosses, while Diomedea have a range of 220–303 days. Though breeding success can vary according to species and breeding season, fledging may be as high as 80% of eggs laid. Long-term averages can range from 25 to 67%, with the waved albatross being the lowest. Recruitment of fledglings into the breeding population occurs at 5–15 years of age with 15–65% of those fledged surviving to breed. Biennial breeders take longer to become sexually mature. Annual mortality rates for adults range from 3 to 9%. The oldest known albatross was a northern royal albatross, still breeding at over 62 years old.

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