WatchList Species Account for Laysan Albatross
(Diomedea immutabilis)

Qualifies for the list as a Hawaii and Continental Red List Species

 

Laysan Albatross by Clipart.com

Photo: ClipArt.com

The Laysan Albatress is the most abundant species of albatross in the Northern Hemisphere and the second-most numerous Hawaiian seabird. Its total population is estimated at 2.5 million. Breeding mostly on atolls in the Hawaiian Archipelago, it spends July to November widely dispersed in the north Pacific Ocean.

 

Once falling victim to feather hunters which decimated colonies and later to military activities on its breeding islands, it has now begun to nest on islands off Mexico, including Guadaloupe Island, and on additional atolls in Hawaii. Its nests are on sandy, grassy areas on low atolls preferably adjacent to tall vegetation. It breeds first at 8-9 years and is long-lived, with records up to 51 years. Foods include squid, which makes up the bulk of its diet, followed by flying fish eggs,. crustaceans, and fishes. The bird feeds by sitting on the water and seizing prey.

 

Rats prey on the breeding colonies and even kill adult birds; dogs and possibly the mongoose are predators on some of the Hawaiian Islands. During and after World War II many were killed on Midway Island, due to measures to reduce collisions with aircraft. Thousands of birds also fall victim to drift nets and longlines. Avian pox spread by introduced mosquitoes also takes a toll. The largest colony is on Midway, with over half the total breeding population. Management to help the birds includes protecting colonies from dogs and guarding colonies against human intrusion.