Fun Chatham Albatross Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Nov 25, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Chatham albatross facts are enjoyed by kids.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.6 Min

The Chatham albatross (Thalassarche eremita) of the Diomedeidae family is a medium-sized bird belonging to the group of mollymawk albatrosses. They are extremely rare and restricted to a single region.

These birds are endemic to the Chatham island of New Zealand and are found mostly on the isolated and relatively inaccessible rock stack in the Chatham Islands called the Pyramid.

While the birds breed on the Pyramid of Chatham Island located in the South Pacific Ocean, this species migrates to the Pacific coast of South America in Chile or Peru in the non-breeding season. Some also migrate to the west to the Indian Ocean or further west to South Africa in the non-breeding season as well.

This species of albatross were formerly considered to be a subspecies of the shy albatross. However, they were differentiated by their dark gray plumage and their place of origin.

These sea birds have a very small population and are facing threats of extinction both by natural causes in the sea and by manmade artificial causes. The Chatham albatross of New Zealand is also known by some other names like Chatham Island mollymawk and Chatham mollymawk.

To know more about these birds, keep on reading these interesting facts. For similar content, check out these facts about willet and marsh wren too!

Chatham Albatross Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Chatham albatross?

The Chatham albatross (Thalassarche eremita) is a type of mollymawk albatross.

What class of animal does a Chatham albatross belong to?

The species of Chatham albatross of Procellariiformes order and Diomedeidae family belong to the class Aves, the common class for all birds.

How many Chatham albatross are there in the world?

The Chatham albatross is a very rare and uncommon species. They spend most of their lives in the sea in isolated places except during the breeding season.

In 1985, a storm in New Zealand had a severe effect on the Pyramid of Chatham Island.

This impacted the population of this mollymawk species in a negative way, and most of the birds lost their nests. However, since 1998, their condition has been improving due to improvements in the soil and vegetation.

The total number of birds counted between 1999-2003 lay between 3200-4200 breeding pairs. A population count in 2007 revealed that there were 5247 breeding pairs, and in 2010, there were 5245 breeding pairs in the Pyramid of Chatham Island.

Therefore the global population was estimated to be approximately around 11000 mature individuals which equates to a total of 16,000 mollymawks, including adults and juveniles.

The population has remained almost stable since 1998 and is expected to remain the same in the near future. Some conservation actions are underway to protect the bird's habitat and introduce a new Chatham albatross colony in other parts of Chatham Island apart from the Pyramid.

Where does a Chatham albatross live?

As the name suggests, the Chatham albatross is native to the Chatham Islands of New Zealand and primarily nests on the isolated rock called the Pyramid.

The Chatham albatross range map is restricted to the south Pacific Ocean, with a small population swimming to the Indian Ocean.

This bird only breeds on the Pyramid of the Chatham Islands and migrates to Tasmania in the west or Chile or Peru in the east during the non-breeding season. Between April to July, they swim to the southwest South American coast and move northwards into the Peruvian coastal water.

They spend 90% of their winter in Chile and Peru and travel back to the Chatham Islands prior to the commencement of the breeding season.

What is a Chatham albatross habitat?

Chatham albatrosses are pelagic birds that only come on the land to breed. In the sea, they prefer to stay in congeners but can also occur on continental slopes or continental shelves.

This bird breeds on the land, particularly on rocky cliffs and slopes. The habitat of the Pyramid in Chatham Islands is the ideal habitat for the Chatham albatross to breed. They make a deep truncated nest made up of grass, mud, and moss on steep slopes or crevices.

Who does a Chatham albatross live with?

Chatham albatrosses are exclusively restricted to the Pyramid rock stack of Chatham Island in the breeding season. There they occur in large flocks that consist of several hundred birds. They also move in a group while migrating to their non-breeding ground.

How long does a Chatham albatross live?

The lifespan of the species of Chatham mollymawks has not been determined. However, the species of shy albatross that were formerly considered to be a similar species of Chatham birds are believed to live for 40 years of age.

How do they reproduce?

The Chatham mollymawk breeds in rocky cliffs or crevices. They are monogamous in nature and breed with the same partner for life.

They form breeding colonies with densely packed nests and protect the nests aggressively. The albatrosses attract each other by typical breeding displays performed by both the male and female.

When interested in mating, an individual performs a courtship display by bowing and bobbing its head along with producing mating calls. The females lay the eggs between mid-September to late October. They only lay a single egg per season, and the egg is incubated by both parents.

The chicks emerge from the eggs after an incubation period of 68-72 days and fledge after 120-140 days. The juveniles become sexually mature at seven years old but usually start to mate a bit later, around 11 years.

What is their conservation status?

The Chatham mollymawk of the Chatham Islands of New Zealand has been listed a Vulnerable species in the Red List produced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN and also by BirdLife International. These albatrosses have a very small breeding range in the Chatham Islands, making them susceptible to the threshold of vulnerable species.

These extremely pelagic birds fall prey to longline fisheries in New Zealand. They are also caught from the east and west coast of New Zealand by trawl wires.

A high mortality rate prevails in their non-breeding grounds in Chile and Peru, where they are caught by longline fisheries as well as act as bycatch.

Sometimes even the chicks of Chatham albatrosses are harvested illegally. However, to protect the species, many conservation actions have been proposed and implemented across their range.

Chatham Albatross Fun Facts

What do Chatham albatrosses look like?

The Chatham albatross (Thalassarche eremita) is a medium-sized bird that is found exclusively in the Chatham Islands. Adults have dark gray upper parts, stretching from the head up to the tail. The rump and the underparts are white.

The lower part of the wings is bordered by a thin black line which becomes a bit thicker towards the tips and ends in the dark patch. The dark yellow bill of the bird looks unique and is very thick. The juveniles have a yellow-black bill with a dark tip.

Chatham albatross have large wings.

How cute are they?

The yellow thick bill of albatrosses gives them a smiling appearance. They also look very smart rather than cute.

How do they communicate?

They are generally silent birds that can be heard only during courtship. Their courtship calls include braying and harsh croaks.

How big is a Chatham albatross?

The average length of the body of the Chatham albatross is 35 in (89 cm). They are similar in size to the shy albatross.

How fast can a Chatham albatross fly?

The Chatham albatross is a very powerful flying bird that can fly in strong air currents of oceans. However, they do not flap their wings continuously and can travel long distances by deep flaps. The speed of the albatross can reach up to 53 mph (85.3 kph).

How much does a Chatham albatross weigh?

The weight of the Chatham mollymawk ranges between 6.8-10.4 lb (3.1-4.7 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Males of this species are referred to as cocks, and females of this species are referred to as hens.

What would you call a baby Chatham albatross?

A baby Chatham albatross is called a chick.

What do they eat?

Like all other mollymawks, they also feed mainly on small fish and squid. Apart from that, they also eat crustaceans, barnacles, krill, and cephalopods. The chicks are fed partly digested fish and squid along with stomach oil produced by the adults.

Are they predators?

Yes, they are carnivorous predators in nature.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they are wild birds that prefer to live in isolation in the Chatham Islands. Human interaction is not desired by the bird.

Did you know...

The Chatham albatross was considered to be the same as Salvins's white-capped albatrosses and shy albatrosses until 1998 and were known as Diomedea cauta eremita. Later research undertaken by Brooke, BirdLife International, and SACC proved that the Diomedea cauta eremita was a different species.

They were shifted to a different group under the Thalassarche genus from the taxa cauta, and they came to be known as Chatham mollymawk or albatross.

How smart are Chatham albatross?

The albatross has large wings which causes difficulty in starting its flight. However, they use the support of the water surface and soar high by turning to the wind current. After that, they gradually lose their height by gliding. This process of technicality surely shows how smart they are.

How high can they fly?

 The speed of this species of albatross is indirectly related to height. As they move high in the sky, the lower their speed becomes. The albatross at lower heights can attain fast speed, while in height, their speed becomes less. However, there is no record regarding the height of flight of this bird.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these moorhen facts and red kite facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable bird coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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