This about as awkward a landing as I’ve ever seen a bird make, and this albatross must have been really embarrassed in front of that chick! The Northern Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi) is limited in range during the breeding season:
Northern royal albatrosses nest on the Chatham Islands (Forty-fours Island, Big Sister Island, and Little Sister Island), Enderby Island in the Auckland Islands, and at Taiaroa Head on the Otago Peninsula of New Zealand. The Taiaroa Head colony is the only albatross colony found on a human-inhabited mainland in the Southern hemisphere. When they are not breeding, northern royal albatrosses undertake circumpolar flights in the southern oceans, and in particular like the Humboldt Current and the Patagonian Shelf.
The video below is from Tairoa Head, and is from a collaborative Albatross Cam:
You can watch the 24 hour livecam here or here; it’s a partnership between New Zealand’s conservation department and the Cornell Bird Lab; the second link tells you about the collaboration. Here are some of the YouTube notes:
Flying for the Northern Royal Albatross is mainly effortless, landing can be a little bit harder. #RoyalCam chick had a front row seat to a ‘how not to land’ lesson.
Landing is challenging because of the narrow wings of the albatross, which do not generate sufficient lift to fly slowly. Their preference is to take off and land when it’s quite windy, which allows better control at slow speeds while using the angle of the wing and the speed of the wind to control the descent. However, on calmer days, things can get tricky, as is seen here.
Lucky for the somersaulting alby, recovery was quick and only the chick was watching!! Albatrosses are sturdy birds accustomed to periodic mishaps on landing, and true to form, this adult walked away and appeared fine.
Royal Cam is a 24-hour live stream of a Northern Royal Albatross nest during the breeding season at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head on the southeast tip of New Zealand’s South Island.