Grey-headed Albatross

The Grey-headed Albatross, Thalassarche chrysostoma, also known as the Grey-headed Mollymawk, is a large seabird from the albatross family. Its name derives from its ashy gray head, neck and throat, while the back, wings and tail are black, and the underwing and belly are white. The bill is black with yellow ridges and an orange tip. Grey-headed Albatrosses nest in colonies on several islands in the Southern Ocean, with large colonies on South Georgia in the South Atlantic, and smaller colonies on Kerguelen Island, Crozet Island and Prince Edward Island in the Indian Ocean, and Campbell Island off New Zealand.

At sea the Grey-headed Albatross is highly pelagic*, more so than other mollymawks, feeding in the open oceans rather than over the continental shelves. They feed predominantly on squid, taking also some fish. They are capable of diving as deep as 23 feet to chase prey, but do not do so frequently.

Grey-headed Albatross lay a single egg in a large nest and incubated for 72 days. A growing chick can be fed as much as a pound of food everyday and grow to around 11 lbs. They tend to lose weight before fledging at around 141 days. Chicks will not return to the colony for 6 – 7 years after fledging, and will not breed for several years after that. If a pair successfully raises a chick it will not breed again for at least two years.

*Pelagic: Pertaining to the oceans and the oceanic zones.