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Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Adam Riley
Southern Ocean off Cape Town, South Africa, 15 October 2011

Alternative name: Mollymawk is an alternative name for small Albatross species

Thalassarche chlororhynchos


Photo © by jonlowes
At sea off The Cape, South Africa, 31 October 2009

Length 71-82 cm (28-32¼ in). Wingspan 180-215 cm.

Adult: Upperwings blackish, connected across the back by back blackish-grey; rump white, tail dark grey and underparts white. Under-wing white with black tip and margins, broadest on leading edge. Head and neck sides and rear medium-to-pale grey with white crown and chin (hints at a grey hood). Area around the eye includes a blackish eye-brow, more prominent in front, and this extends as a dark triangle just below the eye. Iris brown, bill black with narrow yellow stripe at the culmen becoming pinkish near the tip. Legs are bluish-pink.

Immature: as adult but head whiter and bill all-dark.

Similar Species

Photo © by WickWelsh
Pelagic off Cape Town, South Africa, 15 October 2016

Most difficult to separate from Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, which differ in almost lacking the grey hood, and the reduced black marking in the eye-brow is concentrated in front of the eye and does not extend below the eye. Additionally, the yellow stripe at the culmen ends in a sharp point, rather than rounded as in Atlantic Y-n.A.

Identified by combination of bill-colour and underwing pattern which is intermediate between Black-browed and White-capped Albatross.


Breeds on Tristan da Cunha Island, Nightingale Island, Middle Island, Stoltenhoff Island, Gough Island, and Inaccessible Island. Outside of breeding, the birds are found to South America (Argentina to Brazil) and southern Africa (South Africa to Angola).

Vagrants recorded in the Gulf of Mexico and off the eastern seaboard of the USA as far north as Quebec. Also reported from the north-east Atlantic.


Formerly considered the same species as Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross.

Diomedea vs. Thalassarche

Genera Phoebastria and Thalassarche formerly placed in the Diomedea, but now considered by virtually all authorities (Clements, Howard & Moore, AOU, BOU, SACC) to be separate genera in light of Nunn et al. (1996) [4] and Penhallurick & Wink (2004) [5].


This is a monotypic species[1].


Colonial breeder on cliffs of remote islands and present from August until May, otherwise at sea. Sometimes follows ships.



Breeds in southern summer with egg-laying starting in mid-September. Nest is a large bowl made of mud and vegetable matter. Single egg, white marked with brown at larger end (96 x 62mm). Incubated by both parents for about 55-60 days and young fed by both parents. Fledges after 5 months. Most pairs will breed again next year.


Squid and fish, sometimes refuse from ships.


Bleating calls and bill-clapping in display, coughing and grunting sounds when competing for food at sea. </gallery> --->


  1. Clements, J. F., P. C. Rasmussen, T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, A. Spencer, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2023. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2023. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2023. IOC World Bird List (v 13.2). Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.13.2. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  3. BirdLife International. 2017. Thalassarche chlororhynchos (amended version of 2016 assessment). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22698425A111460918. http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-1.RLTS.T22698425A111460918.en. Downloaded on 17 June 2018.
  4. Nunn, G. B., J. Cooper, P. Jouventin, C. J.R. Robertson and G. G. Robertson. 1996. Evolutionary relationships among extant albatrosses (Procellariiformes: Diomedeidae) established from complete cytochrome-B gene sequences. Auk 113 (4):784-801.
  5. Penhallurick, J. and M. Wink. 2004. Analysis of the taxonomy and nomenclature of the Procellariiformes based on complete nucleotide sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. Emu 104:125-147.
  6. del Hoyo, J., C. Carboneras, F. Jutglar, N. Collar, and G. M. Kirwan (2023). Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche chlororhynchos), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (F. Medrano and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.yenalb2.01
  7. Robertson, C.J.R. (2002) The scientific name of the Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross Thalassarche carteri. Marine Orn. 30(1): 48–49.
  8. Birdforum Member observations

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