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The Long Goodbye: End of Fledging Season for Galapagos Albatrosses

end of fledging season for galapagos albatrosses
The end of fledging season for Galapagos albatrosses is nigh, and with it comes the end of a long, team-based that’s shared between albatross parents. Having hatched as early as August/September, Galapagos albatross chicks have spent approximately 5 months growing and getting to a physical state in their lives that allows them to finally spread their wings for the first time and take flight.
fledging galapagos albatross

Photo by: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

If there was ever a time to glimpse the Galapagos albatrosses with their mature chicks, now is that time to hop aboard the Yacht La Pinta’s Eastern Islands Galapagos itinerary, which departs on the 16th and 30th of December of this year! So hop aboard and come along with us in this blog to find out what you’ll get to see!

End of Fledging Season for Galapagos Albatrosses: From Ugly to Elegant

end of fledging season for galapagos albatrosses

Photo by: Duncan

The entire fledging process begins with the birth of what many wouldn’t hesitate to argue as being an “ugly duckling,” so to speak. However, the entire process of bringing up their young is long and strenuous for both parents that tediously have to care after their young and feed it. The fruits of their labour come to show around this time, as their once-tiny-chicks have now shed their flimsy and patchy down feathers in order to grow their elegant whites and “official” coat of feathers that grants them the ability to soar high over the ocean. Come this time of year and next year, these young adults will be seen practicing, flapping and attempting to take off for the first time. After that, it won’t be long before they finally leave the ground for a long, long while.

End of Fledging Season for Galapagos Albatross: Into the Great Wide Yonder

Some of the largest albatross species can spend up to five years at sea, which is why they are considered to be pelagic. Once the end of fledging season for Galapagos albatrosses has come, it is beginning of a long goodbye that won’t see these younglings come back until they have become mature enough (somewhere between 1-3 years) to find a mate and procreate, which is when they will come to display their charming display of courtship. This typically won’t happen until March.
galapagos albatross fledging courtship

Photo by: The TerraMar Project

Oddly enough, this propensity to “take their time” in finding a mate means that guests might even see albatrosses displaying their courtship as late as December? But are they doing it to have babies! Not at all! It’s much too late for that, and what they’re actually doing is more or less akin to “flirting” with other potential mates to see what “moves” they have. In fact, you can almost be certain that albatrosses that you see courting around this time are less than 3 years old.
galapagos albatross first flight

FUN FACT: In 2005, it was found that a grey-headed albatross had flown 13,670 miles around the world in the Southern Hemisphere in 46 days. Photo by: The TerraMar Project

A species of bird as unique and majestic as his is definitely one of the reasons it’s a part of our BIG15 group of iconic species in Galapagos! So be sure to check it off your list before they fly away for this brief interim!
Christopher Klassen

About Christopher Klassen

With parents that worked for the U.S. Foreign Service up until he graduated from high school, Chris was raised to have the heart of a nomad throughout his life. He has resided in Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador throughout his years, and just recently spent the past four up in Canada finishing his Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy & English at the University of British Columbia.