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Laysan Albatross

Coloring: Laysan Albatross is a white bird with a blackish back, tail, and upper surface of wings. Most of the lining or undersurface of the wings is white but there are black to brownish feathers around the edges in an irregular pattern.

Size: 31 to 32 inches long
Weight: 5 to 7 pounds
Wingspan: 6-7 feet
Life Expectancy: 42 years
Age at First Breeding: 8 or 9 years

Distribution in Hawaii: Nests in large numbers in the northwest chain. On the main islands nests at Kilauea Point NWR and Barking Sands Beach and recently successful breeding has occurred at Kaena Point, Oahu. Also seen in increasing numbers on Molokai, Lanai and Hawaii. When away from nesting colony, ranges widely over the north and central Pacific Ocean.

Nesting: They nest on the ground. Both male and female form the nest depression, and while sitting on it, they use their bills to scrape sand, leaves, and other debris to form the rim of the nest. The birds add to the nest rim throughout the incubation period. A single white egg is laid in November, the egg hatches in January, and the chicks fledge in July or August.

Laysan albatross with its chick
Laysan albatross with its chick
R. Shallenberger

Black-footed Albatross

bfal with chick.jpg (23720 bytes)
Black-footed albatross with its chick.
R. Shallenberger


Great Frigatebird

Photo R. Shallenberger

Great frigatebird displayingColoring: This bird is primarily black, slender birds with long, pointed and angled wings and deeply forked tails, which may be opened or closed in flight. The bill is long and strongly hooked. Females have white feathers on the throat and upper breast, and have red eye-rings. Males have a highly inflatable, bare, red gular pouch. Immature birds have a white head, throat, and breast, typically heavily marked with a rusty color.

Females are larger than males. The bird's length averages 43 inches.
Weight: 2.6 pounds male, 3.2 pounds female
Life Expectancy: 34 years (oldest known bird)

Age at first Breeding: 7 years

Distribution: The great frigatebird is found throughout most of the tropical Pacific. The adults tend to remain at their nesting island throughout the year, but immature birds roam widely over the Pacific.

Courtship Behaviors and Nesting: Male frigatebirds inflate their bright red gular pouches during the courtship period and early stages of incubation.  The males collect most of the nesting material, whereas the females build and guard the nest. Frigatebirds may rob twig-carrying boobies or they may steal material from other birds’ nests. Both adults share incubation duties, and the egg is attended by one member of the pair at all times.

Behavior: Their plumage is not waterproof, and frigatebirds are said to never land on water intentionally.  They have 25% more flight feathers and 40% more wing area than any seabird of similar body weight. Frigatebirds are notorious for harassing boobies (and sometimes shearwaters and terns) to the point that the tormented birds disgorge their food in flight, which the frigatebirds catches in air. They also catch fish off the surface of the water.