Waved Albatross - Phoebastria irrorata

The Waved Albatross, Phoebastria irrorata (Procellariiformes - Diomedeidae), is unique in being the largest bird in the Galapagos Islands, and the only albatross species found entirely within the tropics.

Waved albatross mate for life and only breeds on south Española Island in the Galápagos Islands, and (perhaps) on Isla de la Plata off Manabí province, Ecuador. A pair of albatross will lay one egg in a depression on bare ground, where it is incubated for almost two months. These large birds can live for up to 30 years. 

Nonbreeding albatrosses range at sea off the coasts of Ecuador and Peru, where they feed on large fish and squid. Due to the nocturnal habits of the squid, Waved Albatross often feeds primarily at night.

These birds are currently listed as Critically Endangered due to long-line fishing and disease, among other threats.

References: [1] - [2] - [3]

Photo credit: ©Eleanor Briccetti | Locality: Española Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador (2005)

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November 13, 2015 - Sanderling (Calidris alba)

Requested by: @kinglets

These sandpipers breed on the Arctic tundra, migrating long distances to most of the world’s sandy beaches for the winter. They eat marine invertebrates, plucking them from wet sand uncovered by receding waves. During the summer they also eat flying insects and will eat plant material, such as shoots, grasses, algae, and moss when their invertebrate prey is not available. Pairs defend a nesting territory together and both incubate the eggs, though females probably select the nest sites and build the nests. Though usually monogamous, some females may breed with several males during a season. Nonbreeding birds usually stay on their wintering grounds for the whole year, avoiding the 1,800 to 6,000 mile (2,896-9,656 km) trip to the Arctic.


♀ Long-tailed Duck @ Queens Quay, Toronto (February, sunny with wind chills of -21°C).

Unlike other waterfowl, the Long-tailed Duck wears its “breeding” or Alternate Plumage only in the winter. It gets its “nonbreeding” or Basic Plumage in the spring and wears it for the breeding season. Most other ducks wear the non-breeding plumage only for a short period in the late summer.

Migratory Birds Lack Adequate Habitat Protection

By Dana Koblinsky

Migratory birds are always on the move and, as a result, rely on habitat protection — of breeding grounds, nonbreeding grounds and stopover areas.

“I realized that in large conservation initiatives, we’re just not seeing that happen,” said Claire Runge, lead author of a recent study published in the journal Science.

Migratory birds have faced significant declines over the past three decades and Runge, a researcher at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California-Santa Barbara, and colleagues wanted to determine the extent to which migratory bird habitat is protected across the globe…

(read more: Wilderness Society)

photograph: Bar-tailed Godwit by Martin Pelánek