After reaching sexual maturity at eight to nine years, the Laysan albatross switches from permanently living at sea and returns to land for nearly 10 months of the year to raise a single chick. First-time breeders engage in an elaborate courtship display which establishes pair bonds lasting for the rest of their 40 year lives. The male and female build a shallow nest in a colony based on open ground surrounded by tall vegetation. The female lays a single egg which both sexes take turns incubating for nine weeks. The chick is fed by both parents, who alternately tend to the chick and embark on trips of several days to forage at sea. Upon their return, the stomach oil and partially digested stomach contents are regurgitated to feed the chick (4). At the end of the breeding season in July, most birds head northwest towards Japan, and then northeast towards the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska. They then migrate south to Hawaii for the next breeding season (4). Whilst normally quiet and solitary at sea, large flocks may gather to exploit fish discards from factory trawlers. The Laysan albatross seizes food at the surface and by shallow diving to catch squid, fish and crustaceans (2).
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