Black-browed Albatross
Falkland Islands
November 2009
The Falkland Islands hold over 85% of the global population of black-browed albatross and are the most important breeding
station in the world for this species. The colonies were large. On Saunders, the colony continues along the cliffs for five miles.
The colony was five minutes from our door in a house with only two bedrooms. The occupant of the other bedroom was a
lovely lady from Holland. The three of us were the only ones to share this colony of albatross as well as rock hopper colony
with the rock hopper shower some thirty minutes from the house.
Black-browed albatrosses may be seen throughout the year in Falkland waters, but return to their rookeries on land in
September. Breeding is concentrated at 10 major sites, all cliffs or islands mainly off West Falkland. They form colonies
generally on elevated sites where the birds can use updrafts for flying in and out. The nest is a solid pillar of mud and guano
with some tussock grass and seaweed incorporated and is re-used annually. A single egg is laid in early October. Fledged
young birds leave the nest between mid-March and early April but remain within the South Atlantic as they develop to maturity.
They are long lived birds surviving 30 years or more and have a strong attachment to their colony of birth.
Black-browed albatross were the most docile and loving birds we saw. We never saw them squabble with each other or with the
Rockhoppers who sometimes shared colonies with them. Sometimes it was necessary for us to walk within a couple feet of a
nest, but they sat there unphased.
Below, an albatross colony at Westpoint which continues to a steep cliff. Note the Rockhoppers in the foreground.
When seen flying the impression is of a huge bird with long slim wings and an elegant 'sailing' flight. It flaps its wings
infrequently and its flight appears almost effortless. They are very large birds with a wing span 7 to 8 feet..