Wandering Albatross – Accepted

1. 11–12 Jul 1967

A10Y female

Sea Ranch SON



Fig. 35, Paxton (1968), Roberson (1980)




Figure 35. During spring cleaning of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory’s Palomarin Field Station in 2003, Steve N. G. Howell came across and salvaged this historic photograph of the Wandering Albatross at Sea Ranch, Sonoma County, 11–12 July 1967 (1977-144). The photographer and date of the photo are unknown.



Wandering Albatross

WANDERING ALBATROSS Diomedea exulans Linnaeus, 1758

Accepted: 1 (100%)

Treated in Appendix H: no

Not accepted: 0

CBRC review: all records

Not submitted/reviewed: 0

Color image: none

This massive albatross of the southern oceans has a circumpolar distribution, ranging at sea north to latitude 30°S. In the Northern Hemisphere, two were captured on 26 November 1970 near the Senkaku Islands, Japan (Brazil 1991:38), and one was captured, photographed, and released in the Bay of Panama during August 1937 (Murphy 1938). There are five records for the Western Palearctic, the most recent in 1963 (Lewington et al. 1991).

The only Wandering Albatross ever found in California roosted on a coastal bluff at Sea Ranch, Sonoma County, 11–12 July 1967 (Figure 35). The species typically first breeds at 10 years of age (Croxall et al. 1990), and this bird was originally thought to be a “young adult female” (Paxton 1968), which might be the case if the bird belonged to the southern subspecies, D. e. exulans (the so-called Snowy Albatross). But the bird’s plumage aspect could also be shown by a male of one of the northern-breeding populations from New Zealand’s subantarctic islands, either D. e. gibsoni or D. e. antipodensis. The well-demarcated black cap is typical of the latter taxon, but this character also varies with age and sex. Pending a better understanding of plumage variation among the subspecies, and perhaps a better series of photos that shows details of the upperwing, this bird may not be identifiable except as a Wandering Albatross.