Laysan albatrosses are monogamous and known for their elaborate courtship displays. This courtship display is complicated and consists of 25 different postures, from clicking beaks together to tucking them under wings, to pointing them at the sky simultaneously. Only first time breeders and non-breeding birds perform this dance. Laysan albatrosses mate for life. Males and females start breeding around 8 to 9 years of age. Pair bonds are formed over several years – albatrosses may form the pair bond in their third year but not start breeding until they are 8 or 9. Laysan albatrosses do not change mates unless one dies, but changing mates decreases breeding frequency.
Mating System: monogamous
Laysan albatrosses breed once a year and lay one egg each time they breed. If the egg is lost, it is not replaced. The incubation period lasts for about 65 days, both parents take turns incubating the egg. The nestling fledges around 165 days after hatching and leaves the nest at about the same time because the parents stop feeding it. The nestling probably leaves out of hunger and must learn how to swim, fly, and feed out of necessity. Males and females copulate about 24 hours after arriving at the breeding colony. Within a couple of hours after copulation, both birds depart for sea and return after about 8 days. Upon her return, the female builds the nest for a day or so and then lays her egg. Nest construction continues during incubation, mostly by the female but the male contributes as well. Laysan albatrosses are colonial nesters. Nests are a depression in the sand or soil with a rim made of twigs, leaves, or sand.
Breeding interval: Laysan albatrosses breed once a year.
Breeding season: Laysan albatrosses breed from November to July.
Average eggs per season: 1.
Range time to hatching: 63.8 to 65.6 days.
Average time to hatching: 64.4 days.
Average fledging age: 165 days.
Average time to independence: 165 days.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 8.9 years.
Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 8.4 years.
Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
Both sexes play an equal role in incubating the egg, maintaining the nest, and raising the young. The female on average incubates a few days less than the male does (29 vs. 36 days). Birds exchange incubation shifts, usually about 5 times, during the total period of incubation. Exchange occurs during the day, preceded by mutual preening. The relieved bird usually departs to find food within an hour. Both sexes develop an incubation patch that re-feathers after the egg is hatched. If the egg is displaced from the nest, the parent will not retrieve it. After the bird hatches, both parents play equal roles in feeding the chick regurgitated food, which usually consists of squid oil and flying fish eggs. The parent will only feed the chick at the nest site to ensure that it is feeding its own chick. The chick is brooded by the parent for the first few days and later guarded. Both parents take an equal role in guarding the chick.
Parental Investment: precocial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)
- 2007. "Laysan Albatross - Diomedea immutabilis" (On-line). NatureWorks. Accessed May 29, 2007 at http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/laysan.htm.
- Whittow, G. 1993. "Laysan Albatross (Diomedea immutabilis)" (On-line). The Birds of North America Online. Accessed May 29, 2007 at http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/BNA/account/Laysan_Albatross/DISTRIBUTION.html.