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Study finds albatrosses fine-tuned to wind conditions

Source: phys.org

A new study of albatrosses has found that wind plays a bigger role in their decision to take flight than previously thought, and due to their differences in body size, males and females differ in their response to wind.

With a wingspan of over three meters —the largest of any bird alive today— the wandering albatross can fly thousands of miles, even around the world, gliding for long periods in search of fish or squid. Birds search for prey in flight and capture it after landing on the sea surface. Due to their long wings, taking off from the sea surface is by far their most energetically demanding activity, requiring four times more energy than gliding flight.

Now, a study by University of Liverpool scientists published in Journal of Animal Ecology, sheds new light on the previously neglected role of wind in the flight decisions of seabirds. MORE

Header image: a male and female wandering albatross in courtship display. Males are 20% larger than females, which is reflected in their flight performance. Credit: Samantha Patrick.