Waved Albatross (Diomedea irrorata)


Also kown as Galapagos Albatross (GA) (e.g. Tickell 2000).

Pair of Waved Albatross on Espanola, Galapagos Is. Nov 1992. Photograph copyright of Angus Wilson©.



The dark body contrasts with the white head and neck which are suffused to a variable extent with yellow. The comparatively long bill is golden yellow with a slight greenish tinge to the tip. The underwings are whitish at the centers with fairly broad dark brown margins. The brown tail contrasts with a pale rump and pale undertail coverts. The legs and feet are bluish-gray and are obvious in flight. The large mournful eyes are dark and contrast beautifully with the white or pale gold head feathering. The black eye ring is hard to discern except at close range.

Where and When

Breeding restricted to the island of Espanola in the southeastern Galapagos Is. (ca. 15, 590 prs), with a small number breeding on La Plata (ca 10 prs) closer to mainland Ecuador. The total world population is estimated at 70,000-80,000 individuals (Gales, 1998). Waved Albatross must surely have the smallest range of any albatross. Almost all sightings are concentrated within a narrow triangle connecting the Galapagos Archipelago to the adjacent mainland of South America. Few range north of the equator, instead range along the coasts of Ecuador and Peru to 15 degrees South. Recent satellite tracking studies indicate that nesting birds follow a fairly simply feeding routine. Both sexes seem to fly almost directly between Isla Espanola (Hood) and inshore waters off the coast of Peru (Anderson et al. 1997).


Anderson, D. J. Schwandt, A. J., and Douglas, H. D. (1997) Foraging ranges of Waved Albatross in the eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean. In Albatross Biology and Conservation (Robertson, G. and Gales, R. Eds), p180-185. Surrey Beatty, Chipping Norton.

Gales R. (1998) Albatross populations: status and threats. In 'Albatross Biology and Conservation'. Robertson, G. and Gales, R. Eds), p 20-45. Surrey Beatty and Sons Ltd.

Tickell, W. L. N. (2000) Albatrosses. Yale University Press.

Copyright © 2002 All rights reserved. Angus Wilson

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