Campbell Albatross (Diomedea impavida)


Formally considered a subspecies of Black-browed Albatross, however sympatric breeding recorded without hybridization. Adults are readily separated from nominate Black-browed Albatross by their striking pale (honey-colored) iris, heavier black eyebrow (especially in front of the eye), broader dark leading edge to the underwing and the presence of dark streaks running from the elbow extending inwards to the base of the wing near the axillaries.



Similar to Black-browed Albatross, however, many (but not all) adults show (i) a honey-colored iris and (ii) a more extensive dark underwing.

Close-up shot  showing the distinctive yellow iris of many adult Campbell Albatross.

In general, subadults also show a darker underwing than Black-browed Albatrosses of comparable age and are thus even more likely to be confused with Gray-headed Albatross. Field separation of subadult Black-browed and Campbell Albatross needs more study. Birds showing an obvious pale area on the inner underwing are more likely to be Black-browed. Russ and Shirihai (2000) suggest that the extent of the dusky smudging on the neck is too variable to be of use.


Where and When

Breeds only on Campbell Island, New Zealand, in a small number of colonies on the northern side of the island. Some 26,000 pairs were estimated in 1994 , with evidence for decline since the 1960's. Classified as Vulnerable.

Away from the nesting grounds, range is fairly limited being confined to southern Australia, Tasman Sea, and the western Pacific. Vulnerable to mortality through by-catch, primarily immatures around New Zealand and adults off Australia.

Photographs on the web

Adult Paddling on water. Detailed shot taken in September off Wollongong by Tony Palliser and posted on his pelagic web site.
Subadult (race?) Very detailed flight shot taken in October off Wollongong by Tony Palliser and posted on his pelagic web site.
Adult (image 6) On water off Kaikoura, New Zealand by Dennis Buurman of Ocean wings, NZ.
Adult on water On waterJeff Blincow's site. Hard to tell but looks like Campbell's Albatross rather than nominate Black-browed Albatross.


Russ, R. and Shirihai, H. (2000) The birds, marine mammals, habitat and history of the subantarctic islands off New Zealand. Alula 3(6): 82-147.

Waugh, S. M., P. M. Sagar, & R. O. Cossee. (1999) New Zealand Black-browed Albatross Diomedea melanophrys impavida and Grey-headed Albatross D. chrysostoma banded at Campbell Island: recoveries from the South Pacific region. Emu 99: 29-35.

Copyright © 2002 All rights reserved. Angus Wilson
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