Essay on nest in the wind

This bill is composed of several horny plates, and along the sides are the two "tubes", long nostrils that give the order its former name.

The tubes of all albatrosses are along the sides of the bill, unlike the rest of the Procellariiformes, where the tubes run along the top of the bill. These tubes allow the albatrosses to measure the exact airspeed in flight; the nostrils are analogous to the pitot tubes in modern aircraft.

The albatross needs accurate airspeed measurement in order to perform dynamic soaring. Like other Procellariiformes, they use their uniquely developed sense of smell to locate potential food sources, whereas most birds depend on eyesight. The legs are strong for Procellariiformes, making them and the giant petrels the only members of that order that can walk well on land.

Albatrosses, along with all Procellariiformes, must excrete the salts they ingest in drinking sea water and eating marine invertebrates. All birds have an enlarged nasal gland at the base of the bill, above their eyes. This gland is inactive in species that do not require it, but in the Procellariiformes, it acts as a salt gland. The adult plumage of most of the albatrosses is usually some variation of dark upper-wing and back with white undersides, often compared to that of a gull.

Several species of mollymawks and North Pacific albatrosses have face markings like eye patches or have grey or yellow on the head and nape. Three albatross species, the black-footed albatross and the two sooty albatrosses , vary completely from the usual patterns and are almost entirely dark brown or dark grey in places in the case of the light-mantled albatross. Albatrosses take several years to get their full adult breeding plumage.

Albatrosses travel huge distances with two techniques used by many long-winged seabirds: dynamic soaring and slope soaring. Dynamic soaring involves repeatedly rising into wind and descending downwind, thus gaining energy from the vertical wind gradient. The only effort expended is in the turns at the top and bottom of every such loop. Slope soaring uses the rising air on the windward side of large waves. Albatrosses combine these soaring techniques with the use of predictable weather systems: albatrosses in the Southern Hemisphere flying north from their colonies take a clockwise route, and those flying south fly counterclockwise.

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This efficiency is such that the most energetically demanding aspect of a foraging trip is not the distance covered, but the landings, take-offs and hunting they undertake having found a food source. This efficient long-distance travelling underlies the albatross's success as a long-distance forager, covering great distances and expending little energy looking for patchily distributed food sources.

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Their adaptation to gliding flight makes them dependent on wind and waves, but their long wings are ill-suited to powered flight and most species lack the muscles and energy to undertake sustained flapping flight. Albatrosses in calm seas rest on the ocean's surface until the wind picks up again, as using powered flight is not energetically worthwhile though they are capable of flight to avoid danger. The dynamic soaring of albatrosses is inspiring to airplane designers: German aerospace engineer Johannes Traugott and colleagues have charted the albatross's nuanced flight pattern and are looking for ways to apply this to aircraft, especially in the area of drones and unmanned aircraft.

The need for wind to enable gliding is the reason albatrosses are for the most part confined to higher latitudes: being unsuited to sustained flapping flight makes crossing the doldrums extremely difficult. It is not known for certain why the albatrosses became extinct in the North Atlantic , although rising sea levels due to an interglacial warming period are thought to have submerged the site of a short-tailed albatross colony that has been excavated in Bermuda. One of these exiles, a black-browed albatross , returned to gannet colonies in Scotland for many years in an attempt to breed.

The use of satellite tracking is teaching scientists a great deal about the way albatrosses range across the ocean to find food. They undertake no annual migration , but disperse widely after breeding—Southern Hemisphere species often undertake circumpolar trips. A comparison of the foraging niches of two related species that breed on Campbell Island , the Campbell albatross and the grey-headed albatross , showed the Campbell albatross primarily fed over the Campbell Plateau , whereas the grey-headed albatross fed in more pelagic , oceanic waters.

Birdlife has satellite tracking records for each of the 22 species of albatross in their seabird-tracking database. The albatross diet is predominantly cephalopods , fish , crustaceans , and offal organ meat , [15] although they will also scavenge carrion and feed on other zooplankton. The importance of each of these food sources varies from species to species, and even from population to population; some concentrate on squid alone, others take more krill or fish.

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Of the two albatross species found in Hawaii , one, the black-footed albatross , takes mostly fish while the Laysan feeds on squid. The use of data loggers at sea that record ingestion of water against time providing a likely time of feeding suggests that albatrosses predominantly feed during the day. Analysis of the squid beaks regurgitated by albatrosses has shown that many of the squid eaten are too large to have been caught alive, and include mid-water species likely to be beyond the reach of albatross, suggesting that, for some species like the wandering albatross , scavenged squid may be an important part of the diet.

The source of these dead squid is a matter of debate; some certainly comes from squid fisheries , but in nature it primarily comes from the die-off that occurs after squid spawning and the vomit of squid-eating whales sperm whales , pilot whales and southern bottlenose whales. Until recently, albatrosses were thought to be predominantly surface feeders, swimming at the surface and snapping up squid and fish pushed to the surface by currents, predators, or death.

Albatrosses are colonial , usually nesting on isolated islands; where colonies are on larger landmasses, they are found on exposed headlands with good approaches from the sea in several directions, like the colony on the Otago Peninsula in Dunedin , New Zealand.

Many Buller's albatrosses and black-footed albatrosses nest under trees in open forest. All albatross colonies are on islands that historically were free of land mammals. Albatrosses are highly philopatric , meaning they usually return to their natal colony to breed.

Albatrosses live much longer than other birds; they delay breeding for longer and invest more effort into fewer young. Most species survive upwards of 50 years, the oldest recorded being a Laysan albatross named Wisdom that was ringed in as a mature adult and hatched another chick in February , making her at least 66 years old.

She is the oldest confirmed wild bird and the oldest banded bird in the world. Albatrosses reach sexual maturity slowly, after about five years, but even once they have reached maturity, they do not begin to breed for another few years even up to 10 years for some species. Young nonbreeders attend a colony prior to beginning to breed, spending many years practising the elaborate breeding rituals and "dances" for which the family is famous.

This language is mastered more rapidly if the younger birds are around older birds.

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The repertoire of behaviour involves synchronised performances of various actions such as preening , pointing, calling, bill clacking, staring, and combinations of such behaviours such as the sky-call. They then continue to perfect an individual language that will eventually be unique to that one pair. Having established a pair bond that will last for life, however, most of that dance will never be used again. Albatrosses are held to undertake these elaborate and painstaking rituals to ensure that the appropriate partner has been chosen and to perfect partner recognition, as egg laying and chick rearing is a huge investment.

Even species that can complete an egg-laying cycle in under a year seldom lay eggs in consecutive years. Albatrosses lay a single subelliptical [17] egg , white with reddish-brown spots, [30] in a breeding season; if the egg is lost to predators or accidentally broken, then no further breeding attempts are made that year.

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All the southern albatrosses create large nests for their egg, using grass, shrubs, soil, peat, and even penguin feathers, [30] whereas the three species in the North Pacific make more rudimentary nests. Incubation lasts around 70 to 80 days longer for the larger albatrosses , the longest incubation period of any bird. After hatching, the chick, which is semi altricial , [17] is brooded and guarded for three weeks until it is large enough to defend and thermoregulate itself.

During this period, the parents feed the chick small meals when they relieve each other from duty. After the brooding period is over, the chick is fed in regular intervals by both parents. The meals are composed of fresh squid , fish , and krill , as well as stomach oil , an energy -rich food that is lighter to carry than undigested prey items.

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This oil is created in a stomach organ known as a proventriculus from digested prey items by most Procellariiformes, and gives them their distinctive musty smell. Albatross chicks take a long time to fledge. In the case of the great albatrosses, it can take up to days; even for the smaller albatrosses, it takes between and days. Studies of juveniles dispersing at sea have suggested an innate migration behaviour, a genetically coded navigation route, which helps young birds when they are first out at sea.

Hybridization is rare in albatrosses, largely due to the low incidence of breeding-site vagrancy. The Oxford English Dictionary notes that the word alcatraz was originally applied to the frigatebird ; the modification to albatross was perhaps influenced by Latin albus , meaning "white", in contrast to frigatebirds, which are black.

They were once commonly known as goonie birds' or gooney birds, particularly those of the North Pacific.

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In the Southern Hemisphere, the name mollymawk is still well established in some areas, which is a corrupted form of malle-mugge , an old Dutch name for the northern fulmar. The name Diomedea , assigned to the albatrosses by Linnaeus , references the mythical metamorphosis of the companions of the Greek warrior Diomedes into birds.

Finally, the name for the order, Procellariiformes, comes from the Latin word procella meaning "a violent wind" or "a storm". Albatrosses have been described as "the most legendary of all birds". The albatross metaphor is derived from this poem; someone bearing a burden or facing an obstacle is said to have "an albatross around his neck", the punishment given to the mariner who killed the albatross. A widespread myth holds that sailors believe shooting or harming an albatross is disastrous, due in part to the poem; in truth, sailors regularly killed and ate them, [24] as reported by James Cook in However, other sailors reportedly caught the birds but let them free again, possibly believing that albatrosses were the souls of lost sailors, [43] so killing them would bring bad luck.

The poet is like this prince of the clouds, who haunts the storm and mocks the archer; but exiled on earth surrounded by jeers, his giant wings make him helpless to walk. In golf , shooting three under par on a single hole has recently been termed scoring an " albatross ", as a continuation on the birdie and eagle theme. The Maori used the wing bones of the albatross to carve flutes. Albatrosses are popular birds for birdwatchers , and their colonies are popular destinations for ecotourists.

Regular birdwatching trips are taken out of many coastal towns and cities, such as Monterey , Dunedin , Kaikoura , Wollongong , Sydney , Port Fairy , Hobart , and Cape Town , to see pelagic seabirds. Albatrosses are easily attracted to these sightseeing boats by the deployment of fish oil and burley into the sea. Visits to colonies can be very popular: the northern royal albatross colony at Taiaroa Head in Dunedin, New Zealand, attracts 40, visitors a year, [3] and more isolated colonies are regular attractions on cruises to subantarctic islands.

In spite of often being accorded legendary status, albatrosses have not escaped either indirect or direct pressure from humans.

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Early encounters with albatrosses by Polynesians and Aleuts resulted in hunting and in some cases extirpation from some islands such as Easter Island.