The wandering albatross is the largest flying bird in the world. It has a wingspan of 12 feet (3.5m).
The wandering albatross gets its name from its ability to fly for months at a time without touching the Earth. The wandering albatross is circumpolar. It flies over the oceans in a region that circles the Earth north of Antarctica and mostly south of Africa, Australia, and South America.
The wandering albatross’s large wings allow it to soar on strong air currents above the waves of open seas. It can soar long distances without having to beat its wings to stay airborne. When it’s time to eat, the wandering albatross simply swoops down to the ocean surface to catch fish, krill, or squid and then quickly becomes airborne again.
The wandering albatross comes to land when it is time to breed. Immature wandering albatrosses will circle the southern hemisphere for 10 to 15 years before they are old enough to breed.
When breeding time comes, wandering albatrosses will gather on cliff tops or ledges of small remote islands. There they will build small mounded nests made from mud, soil, grass, and seaweed. A male and female will mate and become partners for life. The female will lay one white egg and the parents will take turns looking after the egg until it hatches after 11 weeks.
It is not uncommon for as many as one million wandering albatrosses to form a nesting colony. It takes one year to rear a chick. A wandering albatross pair usually mate every other year. This allows them to go back to sea for months on end before nesting again.
The scientific name of the wandering albatross is Diomedea exulans.