Albatross fails to stick landing

March 10, 2021 • 2:30 pm

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.

31 thoughts on “Albatross fails to stick landing

  1. very good. Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing. We will call that one a ground loop.

  2. Albatross: “I’m fine.”

    [chick stares in disbelief]

    Albatross: “I said I’m *fine*! What are you looking at?”

    1. Exactly! The part I loved the best is after the albatross rights themselves – the facial gestures, the bill, the swagger – can’t help but add a soundtrack.

  3. I spent a lot of time on Midway Island stopping there as a USAF navigator on C-130’s in the late 60’s on trips across the Pacific. I watched a lot Albatrosses flopping their landings. They’re not very good at taking off either, but once aloft they can fly great distances.

    1. If you could find that little dot out there you were doing pretty well. As a passenger I did many flights on C-130’s but mostly in Europe. Did one flight from Guam to the Philippines but that was much later, maybe the 80s.

      1. Reply to that poem quoted by S. Pinker….

        Poor old Mum and Dad: publicly accused by their son, the
        poet, and never given a chance to reply to his charges. They
        shall have one now, if I may take the liberty of speaking for

        How sharper than a serpent’s tooth
        To hear your child make such a fuss.
        It isn’t fair—it’s not the truth—
        He’s fucked up, yes, but not by us


  4. I like the way he tries to keep his cool after the public failure. It reminds me of Viv Richards calmly chewing his gum after failing to make contact with an over-ambitious cover drive.

  5. Yup, we all embarrass ourselves in front of the kids sooner or later. We’re not necessarily filmed doing it though, praise be to ceiling cat…

    1. Like singing (preferably with hand movements) in the car with your 11-yr.-old in the back. MOM! That’s soooo embarrassing🙀

      1. I literally just got my drum-playing teenage son to listen to John Bonham’s performance on “Fool in the Rain” and got the grudging acceptance that it was “pretty cool”, so perhaps there’s hope yet?

        Bonham starts mixing it up around two minutes in, but it’s what he does after the whistle blows at about 2:28 that is really impressive:

      2. When my kids were teenagers, I discovered that the “nuclear option” for getting them to behave was to threaten to dance in front of their friends the next time they came over to visit.

        Got so, if they were acting up, I’d just walk in the room, look at them, look over at the stereo, then look back at them, and they knew to straighten-up and fly right.

        The threat was probably a form of child abuse, I know, but sometimes a dad’s gotta do what a dad’s gotta do.

        1. 😂🤣When my daughter was 10 or 11 we had her party at a roller (blade) rink. A gf of mine whose son was in my dd’s class came along for moral support. There were maybe 10 kids in the party, mostly girls but a smattering of boys. When the Macarena came on my friend and I went full embarrassing-mom on our roller blades (shades of Pulp Fiction). So much fun!

          1. “Living end.” Haven’t heard that exp’n in a while🤣 Maybe contemporaneous with Ken’s dance moves? Probably not what his sons would call them🤓

        2. Can also work in reverse. My brother and I took our mother to Brookfield Zoo, and she made some offhand remark, I don’t remember what, but it was about not embarrassing her. Right on cue, both of us went into full-on chimpanzee pant-hoots with screaming and body language.) And that was when we in our 20’s. (She thought it was funny.)

  6. Considering how little time the albatrosses spend on land at all that was ok. A bit like coming back from the ISS after a year in orbit. 🙂

  7. As was discussed with … Jez?, here, recently, no matter how many kilometres there are in the boring part of the flight, every flight contains one take off and one landing, and that is where between half and two thirds of “interesting times” take place.
    See also : “seven minutes of terror”, versus 560 million km of “Are we there yet?”

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