The Laysan Albatross averages 32 inches in length, weighs 5.3–9.0 pounds, and has a wingspan of 77–80 inches, small for
the albatross family., As previously noted, two-thirds of the Laysan Albatross in the world nest on Midway Atoll.
The albatross is the only bird with two joints in its wing as evidenced in the picture below.
The Laysan Albatross arrive in Midway in December and January to lay their eggs. By the time we arrived in late March, the
chicks were approximately six weeks old. The parents fly 800 miles each way to feed. Below, a Laysan Albatross feeding its
Our plane landed on Midway at night to avoid hitting birds. As we landed on the runway, even in the dark we could see the
albatross along the sides of the runway. We stayed in the old military barracks. Below is the sight which greeted us our first
morning as we walked out of the barracks to the restaurant for breakfast.
The Laysan Albatross are everywhere, although they generally (but not always) avoid the asphalt and concrete areas. Below,
Jackie taking pictures of the Albatross.
The Laysan Albatross need to make a long running start to take off. Often they step on a chick while taking off.
Landing is an awkward feat. Often a landing albatross will fall on its face when landing.
Albatross in flight are a thing of beauty.
Juvenile birds return to the colony three years after fledging, but do not mate for the first time until seven or eight years old.
During these four or five years they form pair bonds with a mate that they will keep for life. Courtship entails especially
elaborate 'dances' that have up to 25 ritualized movements.
The parents of the chicks returned every four or five days to feed their chicks. The feeding usually only lasted for a few
minutes. So most of the full grown albatross we observed on Midway were juvenile birds indulging in the mating process. Below
are a couple pictures of their mating dance which involved simultaneous bobbing of heads and then point their heads
simultaneously to the sky.
The Laysan Albatross were generally unafraid of us and would let us get within a foot or two of them. If we sat still, it was not
unusual to have them come investigate us.