Latin name: Thalassarche melanophrys
Longevity: They can have a natural lifespan of over 70 years.
Cites classified: Endangered (IUCN, 2008)
Where found: Breeds at twelve sites in the Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Islas Diego Ramirez, Ildefonso, Diego de Almagro and Isla Evangelistas (Chile), South Georgia, Crozet and Kerguelen Islands, Heard and McDonald Islands, Macquarie Island, and Campbell, Antipodes and Snares Islands.
Wingspan: 240 cm
Length: 83-93 cm
Weight: 2.9-4.6 kg
Mating/Breeding: Monogamous bird. It breeds annually in late September-mid-November onwards, usually on terraces or steep slopes of tussac grass, occasionally bare rocky areas and islets. Breeding colonies can consist of as many as 100,000 pairs of birds, and are often shared with shags and penguins. They lay one egg that is incubated in 65-72 days. Chicks fledge in 110-125 days. Both sexes incubate and provision the young.
Eggs: Whitish egg with fine red-brown spots at broad end.
Hibernation: Little is known of their migratory patterns after breeding, but there is a general movement northward in the southern autumn.
Hunting Habits: Takes his food by surface-seizing, pursuit-plunging, surface-plunging and surface-diving. Follows boats and is a regular scavenger, stealing prey from other seabirds. Also follows cetaceans.
Feed on: Fish and krill, with some cephalopods and jellyfish.
Threats: It is one of the most frequently killed species in many long-line fisheries. It is also killed in significant numbers by trawl fisheries.
Colour/Looks: Like the other albatross species known as “mollymawks”, it can be distinguished from the Wandering Albatross by the wholly dark upperwings, dark tail band and smaller size. The features that identify it from other mollymawks are the dark eyestripe which gives it its name, a broad black edging to the white underside of its wings, white head and orange bill, tipped darker orange. In young birds the underwings are darker, the head grey and the bill grey, tipped black. They are similar to Grey-headed Albatrosses but the latter have wholly dark bills and more complete dark head markings.
- Also known as Black-browed Mollymawk.
- Although this is a rare occurrence, on several occasions a Black-browed Albatross has summered in Scottish Gannet colonies (Bass Rock, Hermaness and now Sula Sgeir) for a number of years. Ornithologists believe that it was the same bird, known as Albert, who lives in north Scotland. It is believed that the bird was blown off course into the North Atlantic over 40 years ago, and it is suspected that the bird is over 47 years old. A similar incident took place in the gannet colony in the Faroe Islands island of Mykines, where a Black-browed Albatross lived among the gannets for over 30 years. This incident is the reason why an albatross is referred to as a ‘Gannet King’ (Faroese: súlukongur) in Faroese.
- BirdLife International (2008) Species factsheet: Thalassarche melanophrys
- IUCN Red List
- Hadoram Shirihai, A complete guide to Antarctic wildlife (2002)
- David McGonigal & Lynn Woodworth, Antarctica and the Arctic. The complete encyclopedia (2001)