Scientific name: Phoebetria palpebrata

Physical description

Light-mantled sooty albatrosses have a dark grey head and a light grey body. They have a distinctive white crescent surrounding most of the eye.

They have a wingspan of approximately 2.2m. This makes them one of the smaller albatross in the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic.

Distribution and abundance

Light-mantled sooty albatross are the most abundant breeding albatrosses on Macquarie Island, where approximately 1000 pairs nest every year.

In the 19th century, light-mantled sooty albatrosses were named ‘Blue Bird’ by sealers because their plumage looked blue in strong Antarctic light.

Conservation status: near threatened with population trends decreasing.

Decreasing populations are due to the birds being caught in long-line fishing operations.

Breeding

Light-mantled sooty albatross make nests out of mud and plant material. Nests are usually lined with grasses. They are a low mound, 15–30cm high and 45–55cm at base.

Light-mantled sooty albatross are solitary nesters, although occasionally they will nest in small colonies of up to 15 nests. Little is known of their behaviour during the non-breeding period, which is spent entirely at sea.

The breeding cycle of light-mantled sooty albatross is the same as that of wandering albatross. They breed once every two years. The fledging period of light-mantled sooty albatrosses is five months.

Diet and feeding

Light-mantled sooty albatross mostly eat cephalopods and euphausiids. They also eat fish and carrion.

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