Black-browed Albatross

Did you know?

Black-browed Albatrosses approach close to shore and so can be seen clearly from land, especially from cliff-tops.

Calls
Gutteral gruntings.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
No
Minimum Size: 
84cm
Maximum Size: 
94cm
Average size: 
88cm
Average weight: 
3 500g
Breeding season: 
September to April
Clutch Size: 
1 egg
Incubation: 
72 days
Nestling Period: 
120 days
Conservation Status
Federal: 
QLD: 
VIC: 
WA: 
Basic Information
Scientific Name: 
Featured bird groups: 
Atlas Number: 
88
What does it look like?
Description: 

The Black-browed Albatross is the most common albatross seen in southern Australian waters for most of the year, and is the only one of the mollymawks (another name for the smaller black-and-white albatrosses) with a yellow bill. The bill has a pink tip. The back, upper wings and tail are a slaty black. The underwing is white with broad black margins, especially the leading edge. The face is white, with a small black brow over a dark eye. The legs and feet are blue-grey to flesh-pink. This species is also called the Black-browed Mollymawk.

Similar species: 

The Shy Albatross, D. cauta, is similar to the Black-browed Albatross in body colour, but its bill is olive-grey, there is a dark line through the eye almost to the bill, and the underwing is mainly white with narrow black margins.

Where does it live?
Distribution: 

The Black-browed Albatross wanders throughout the oceans of the Southern Hemisphere, south of the sub-tropics. The Falkland Islands hold over 85% of the global population, making them the most important breeding location in the world for this species.

Habitat: 

The Black-browed Albatross lives on the wing over the southern oceans for most of the year.

Seasonal movements: 

Black-browed Albatrosses migrate in winter and spring to as far north as Geraldton on the west coast and the Tropic of Capricorn on the east coast, but they are most commonly seen off the south-east coast of the mainland and around Tasmania.

What does it do?
Feeding: 

Black-browed Albatrosses fly over the ocean surface, searching for plankton, squid, cuttlefish, crustaceans and fish, and follow ships for galley refuse and carrion. They settle on the water near fishing boats in anticipation of food.

Breeding: 

The Black-browed Albatross breeds colonially on many sub-Antarctic islands, including Heard and Macquarie Islands. It is a long-lived species, (30 years or more) with a strong bond to its birth colony and birds will generally take the same breeding partner each season. The nest is a solid pile of mud and guano (droppings) mixed with some tussock grass and seaweed and is re-used each year. The nests are made on terraces on top of coastal tussocky cliffs and steep slopes up to 300m above sea level. Newly hatched chicks are covered with pale grey down, and are fed by both parents. Young birds leave the nest between mid-March and early April.

Living with us

Long-line fishing snares and drowns many Black-browed Albatrosses.

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