Return of Bird of the Week: Light-mantled Sooty Albatross

A smaller member of the albatross family, the Light-manted Sooty Albatross (sometimes called the Light-mantled Albatross) is another circumpolar species.

Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, off South Georgia Island

The species is “small” only in relation to other albatrosses. With a wingspan of six to seven feet and a weight of as much as eight pounds, the bird is larger than  Golden Eagle and much, much more aerobatic.

Light-mantled Sooty Albatross, off South Shetland Islands

There are only about 58,000 birds remaining, and the species is in decline. Another victim of long-line fishing, their situation is worsened by their very slow reproductive rates. On average, birds only begin breeding when they are 8 to 15 years old, after which they breed biennially, fledging a chick every five years or so. They are capable of breeding until at least 32 years old and living to 40 or longer. But you can see that, on average, a Light-mantled pair is only going to produced 4-5 chicks over the course of their long lives. They are classified by the IUCN as near-threatened.

They are a beautiful, elegant bird and WC is grateful for getting to see and photograph them.

For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

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