The species is monogamous and breeding pairs tend to stay together for years. Females start developing the eggs before they reach shore and find their partner. First time breeders lay eggs with much less frequency and later in the season than returning breeders. However, young females paired with older males tend to match the laying cycles of older females. (Fisher 106) The environment affects breeding patterns heavily. When severely disturbed, up to 72% of the population may fail to breed or choose not to. (Stahl 328)
The mother often lays the egg directly on the ground before even beginning a nest. (Fisher 108) The nest once built consists of a dirt mound with a deep depression in the center. Once a mother has established a nest location it returns to it year after year, and usually only moves locations of it finds a new mate.
During brooding, the albatross makes short foraging trips to sites close to the shore. In Hawaii these sites tend to be warmer and deeper than its usual foraging grounds and are much less productive. Once the chick has hatched and can be left unattended the parent travels much farther distances to more productive sites. (Awkerman 290)
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