Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Albatross, the popular name of Diomedea, a genus of Petrels with ten species (distinguished from the rest of the family by having the hind toe rudimentary, and the tubular nostril one on each side of the upper mandible). They range over the Pacific Ocean and the Southern seas generally, but are most abundant between 30° and 60° S. lat., the home of the common or wandering albatross (D. exulans), the largest and strongest of all sea-birds; length of body, about 4 ft.; weight, 15 to 25 lbs.; wing expanse, 12 to 15 ft. When first hatched the albatross is white, the young birds are dusky, and the adults again white, with transverse bands of black or brown on the back, wings darker than the rest of the body, bill yellowish pink. It is often met with at a great distance from land, and, from the numbers seen round the Cape of Good Hope, it is called by sailors the Cape Sheep. It feeds voraciously on fish and small marine animals and any refuse or carrion floating on the waves. When food is abundant, it gorges to such an extent that it is unable to rise, and sits motionless on the waves, but on the approach of danger it disgorges the undigested food, and, so lightened, takes to flight. All the species are very strong on the wing. Towards the end of June albatrosses appear in great numbers in Behring Sea and adjacent waters. The Kamchadales take them with baited hooks, and use their entrails when inflated as floats for nets, and make various domestic articles and tobacco pipes from the wing-bones. Albatrosses nest on solitary islands like Tristan da Cunha, forming a rough nest of grass and leaves, and laying one white egg, 4 to 5 in. long.