Species: P. irrorata
Range: Endemic to Galápagos. When not out at sea, the majority can be found breeding on the cliffs, rocky shores, and shrubland of Española Island
Population: Estimated 50,000-70,000
IUCN Red List Status: Critically endangered
How to Spot Them: White head with creamy yellow crown and neck; long, yellow hook-tipped bills; brown feathers with wave-like pattern; wingspan up to 8 feet; can reach 3 feet tall and 11 pounds.
There’s a dance party happening in Galápagos unlike any other in the world! On Isla Española, the southernmost island in the archipelago, thousands of waved albatross take part in a one-of-a-kind courtship ritual. The lively dance includes an array of steps—from beak fencing and head nodding to bowing, honking and sky pointing—all performed with precision as partners mirror each other’s moves. These behaviors pick up speed and sometimes on the crowded breeding grounds, the air becomes a spectacular frenzy of calls and motion.
The largest bird in Galápagos, waved albatross can appear comically awkward and gangly on land. But once they take to the air with their massive wingspans, they are in their element, gliding majestically over the open ocean for months or even years on end.
Watch the video above to see these soaring seabirds in action.
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