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You may see -Incubation, Adolescent displays, Parental swap overs
Albatross parents are continuing to incubate their eggs, despite much noise from the raucous adolescents socialising which we continue to see late into the evenings at the headland. With the days getting longer and warmer, the Otago Peninsula is in summer mode! Throughout December our parents continue to swap over as they work cooperatively to incubate their eggs, each soaring in and out of the colony as they search for food to keep their stomachs content on the nest.
Come and grab a cup of tea from our café here at the Royal Albatross Centre, and watch one of the largest sea birds in the world soar above you! If that entices your curiosity, talk to the team at reception and head up to the observatory with one of our expert guides.
It also marks the beginning of the busiest time in the lives of the albatross, and it will only get busier from the time that the eggs hatch! With all the activity of the albatross, and the other twenty plus species keeping busy into the summer months, it is a perfect time to come and visit the wildlife capital of New Zealand.
Top 10 Royal Albatross Facts
1. Northern Royal Albatross wingspan is three metres, albatrosses are the world’s largest seabirds.
2. Height when standing is around one metre, with feet the size of a human hand. Adult weight is around 7kg
3. Top speed of an albatross in flight is about 110kph. They can fly over 1,000km in a day and up to 19,000 km in a year.
4. Albatross take two years to raise one chick. Mating takes place in September/October, egg laying and brooding November/ December/ January, hatching January/February and feeding the chick right through to August/September, then the parents have a year off overseas.
5. Squid is albatross’ favourite food, although Dunedin’s albatross eat a lot of octopus.
6. ‘Albatross tears’ are actually salt being excreted via a gland excess salt from drinking seawater
7. Pair bonding is usually for life. There are also around three or four female-female pair who help raise chicks at Taiaroa Head.
8. Chicks fledge at around eight months old. They take off for on average five years, never touching land until they return to Taiaroa Head to search for a mate and partake in elaborate courtship rituals.
9. The first Royal Albatross chick fledged from Taiaroa Head in 1938; the colony now has around 250 birds. Average life span is 25 years.
10. Dunedin is the only place in the world where you can visit a breeding colony on a mainland. It’s an easy 45 minute from the central city to Taiaroa Head/Pukekura
Your only chance to see... the world's only mainland Royal Albatross breeding colony. Visit our exclusive observatory on the nature reserve to see giant albatross throughout their breeding cycle as they court, lay eggs and raise huge fluffy chicks.