Northern Royal Albatross Diomedea sanfordi

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Huge albatross of the Southern Ocean; breeds mainly on Chatham Islands in New Zealand, but ranges widely. Especially numerous in Humboldt Current off western South America. Easily separated at a distance from smaller albatrosses by white back. From the Wandering Albatross complex (including Snowy, Tristan, Antipodean, and Amsterdam Albatrosses) by uniformly dark upperwings at all ages with otherwise clean white appearance (including mostly white tail, occasionally with small black markings). This combination of features is never shown by Wandering-types, and Northern Royal never has dirty brownish markings on head and body or a mostly black tail. At close range, note the diagnostic narrow black “lips” on cutting edge of bill, lacking on Wandering-types. Also note slightly longer, thinner bill and shallower forehead, which give Northern Royal a “snoutier” look than Wandering-types. Very similar to Southern Royal Albatross; best separated by uniformly dark upperwings, especially on the leading edge. Youngest Southern Royals can also have dark upperwings with very narrow white leading edge; can require close scrutiny or good photographs to identify with confidence. Range averages further north than Southern Royal, but some overlap.



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