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Black-footed Albatross - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by digitalbirder
60km West of Westport Washington, August 2004
Phoebastria nigripes


Length 68-74cm. Wingspan 193-213cm
A dark North Pacific albatross confusable with juvenile Short-tailed D. albatrus.
Adult: almost entirely blackish-brown, slightly paler below, with a narrow whitish area around base of bill (sometimes also under eye), white rump and uppertail coverts and some show white undertail coverts. Iris blackish-brown, bill and legs blackish-grey.
Immature: as adult but reduced white around bill-base and dark uppertail covertts and vent.

Similar Species

Photo © by charelli
Monterey Bay, California, USA, 6 May 2016

Distinguished from juvenile Short-tailed Albatross by smaller size, smaller, darker bill and dark legs. Some atypical adults, either aberrant, aged or hybrids between Black-footed and Laysan Albatross D. immutabilis, are much paler, particularly on head and underparts and can resemble immature Short-tailed but always lack the diagnostic upperwing patches of that species.


Bill Touching – Courtship Behavior
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Half Moon Bay, California, USA, 15 May 2021

A North Pacific albatross breeding in the Leeward Chain of Hawaii, in the Marshall Islands and Johnston Island, and Torishima, south of Japan. Disperses widely in the North Pacific above 100N, north to the Bering Sea, west to Taiwan and east to the Pacific coast of North America where this is the only regularly seen albatross and occurs from Alaska south to Baja California. Commonest in summer and autumn but present year-round.


This is a monotypic species[1].

Diomedea vs. Phoebastria

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) and Penhallurick & Wink (2004).


Present on breeding islands from October until July, otherwise at sea but young birds remain at sea for first 3-4 years. Often follows ships.



Breeds colonially, sometimes with Laysan Albatross. Single white egg laid in a shallow scrape and incubated by both sexes for 65 days. Young fledges at about 6 months.


Squid and fish caught at night, sometimes refuse from ships.


Bell-like calls when displaying, otherwise harsh screeching and croaking calls.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2022. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2022. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

Recommended Citation

External Links

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