Contents |   Seabirds   |   Colonies   |  Other Sea Life   |   Take a Trip   |   Trip Reports   |   Sources  |    TO  O

New England Seabirds

Wilson's Storm-petrel

Trip Reports
Midway Atoll NWR
Calendar

Bird List
Albatross
White and Sooty Tern
Other Birds
Sea Turtles & Seals
WW III

 

 

 

Midway Atoll NWR

Three Species of Albatross

 

send mail to webmaster

 

Laysan Albatross dance to find a mate

Laysan Albatross dance to establish a pair bond. These birds are unmated birds looking for a permanent partner either because they are young birds or experienced breeders who have lost their mate.


Laysan Albatross head

Laysan Albatross


Black-footed Albatross

Black-footed Albatross


Stellar's Albatross

 

hort-tailed Albatross or Stellar's Albatross also called the Golden Gooney.

Three Species of Albatross - To read more about each species click on the pictures above.

Most Albatross species live and breed in the southern hemisphere.  Only occassionally does a stray southern hemisphere Albatross venture north.  There are three species of North Pacific Albatross. Two species breed on Midway Atoll. The most numerous is the Laysan Albatross. It breeds all over the island preferring open grassy or weedy areas. The Black-footed Albatross breeds on the perimeters of the island. The refuge is trying to encourage the endangered Short-tailed Albatross to breed on Midway.

All visitors to Midway fall in love with the Albatross. They were favorites with the cable company employees who protected them from the plume hunters, with the wealthy, pampered passengers flying the China Clipper ships, with the navy who found them a great nuisance, and now with the tourists who come to the island.

Often called Gooney Birds because of their lack of fear of humans. These birds survived the plume hunters, World War II and the Navy during the post war years. Now with their breeding grounds secure as a National Wildlife Refuge we have only to persuade the long-line fishing industry to reform their techniques which kill many of the birds as they scour the sea trying to find food for themselves and their offspring.

Albatross Taxonomy 

Of course with the science of DNA and the increased interest in Albatross breeding, some taxonomic changes are in the works.  Traditionally 11 species were recognized.  Recent publications have split the species into 23 species and perhaps 24.  This involved some name changes whichincluded changing the genus name of the three northern Packific species found on Midway..  I have given both the old genus name of Diomedea and the newer suggested genus name Phoebastria.  That should do until this is all sorted out. 

Short-tailed Albatross  or Stellar's Albatros  Diomedea albatrus or Phoebastria albatrus


Short-tailed Albatross also called Stellar's Albatross or the golden goony is a most highly endangered bird. Breeding on islands in the north west Pacific Ocean near Japan, the bird was persecution nearly to extinction by Japanese plume hunters. It is being brought back from the brink by efforts of the Japanese governments and a single scientist. An evening programs on Midway is a film shown at the theatre about the effort to save the Short-tailed Albatross..

One of the problems with the bird is that it now breeds on a single island which is an active volcano. It is very important to establish alternate breeding colonies and that is not an easy thing to do since albatrosses like many seabirds exhibit strong site fidelity. 

The Midway National Wildlife Refuge is attempting to lure Short-tailed Albatross to Eastern Island with decoys. A single Short-tailed has taken up residence on Eastern Island . In the photo below (s)he is resting with his head on his back waiting for other singles to show up so (s)he too can dance and try to find a mate for life.

Notice the yellow-flowed plant in the background. This is an introduced species which is a problem because it eventually grows so dense that the birds cannot penetrate. In the foreground Laysan chicks.

The refuge allows a supervised tour of Eastern Island once a week. Visitors are allowed to get close enough to this bird for a quick photograph. As you can see our presence did not seem to bother the bird much. In January of 2001 another Short-tailed Albatross not fully mature because it retains a dark smudge on the back of the head showed up on Sand Island. (Remember Midway Atoll consists of 2 islands: Sand Island where visitors are allowed and Eastern Island.) This bird was banded 8 April 1993 by Dr. Hiroshi Hasegawa on Torishima Island, Japan.We did not see this bird as it apparently left the week before we arrived. So at this point the project can be said to be promising. If successful Midway NWR will play an important role in the survival of this species.

Eastern Island Stellar's Albatross

The refuge allows a supervised tour of Eastern Island once a week. Visitors are allowed to get close enough to this bird for a quick photograph. As you can see our presence did not seem to bother the bird much.

In January of 2001 another Short-tailed Albatross not fully mature because it retained a dark smudge on the back of the head showed up on Sand Island. (Remember Midway Atoll consists of 2 islands: Sand Island where visitors are allowed and Eastern Island.) This bird was banded 8 April 1993 by Dr. Hiroshi Hasegawa on Torishima Island, Japan.We did not see this bird as it apparently left the week before we arrived. So at this point the project can be said to be promising. If successful Midway NWR will play an important role in the survival of this species.

The Short-tailed or Stellar's Albatross has a golden head as an adult which can be seen in this picture.  It is sometimes called the Golden Gooney.

Trip Reports    |   Midway Atoll  | Calendar | Bird List  | AlbatrossTerns | Other Birds  |  Sea Turtles & Seal WWI | Top of Page