Sooty Albatross Phoebetria fusca


One of the most distinctive of albatrosses, this mid-sized species can only be confused with the Light-mantled Albatross (Phoebetria palpebrata) or either of the giant-petrels (Macronectes spp.). It is uniform sooty brown with a broken white eye-ring, long, narrow wings, a wedge-shaped tail, and in close views, displays a yellowish-pink bill stripe. Light-mantled Albatross usually shows at least some contrast between the wings and head, and the rest of the body plumage, while both giant-petrels have quite different body shapes, more massive and largely pale bills, and quite distinctive flight profiles. The Sooty Albatross ranges throughout the Southern Ocean, but does not breed in our region, being confined to a handful of insular localities in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans when nesting, with approximately 40% of the global population breeding on Gough Island. The breeding season extends through the entire summer, with eggs being laid in October and November, and the chicks fledging in May. Sooty Albatross breeds in loose colonies, and is often seen in very small groups at sea. Large-scale declines have been documented in recent decades on some of these islands at least, and BirdLife International currently lists the species as Endangered, with an estimated breeding population of no more than 19,000 pairs. As with many other tubenoses, Sooty Albatross is particularly at risk from longline fisheries.

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Recommended Citation

Sooty Albatross (Phoebetria fusca), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: