Shy Albatross

Shy Albatross

Thalassarche cauta

Pictures: Teus Luijendijk


The 'superspecies' Shy Albatross consists of four fairly similar taxa, Chatham T. (cauta) eremita , Salvin's T. (cauta) salvini , White-capped T. (cauta) steadi  and Shy Albatross T. (cauta) cauta . The latter two are very difficult to separate at sea, but Chatham and Salvin's stand out as they have a rather obvious dark hood, reminiscent of that of Grey-headed Albatross T. chrysostoma .
'Shy Albatross' does not breed in the Atlantic but stragglers are every now and then observed, especially around Tristan da Cunha. We also encountered two, and as they both showed a rather whitish head, they must have belonged to either steadi  or cauta . Recent research by Peter Ryan, comparing DNA samples of birds from South Africa, has shown that 80% of them were steadi , while 20% could not be identified to taxon. The taxon steadi  therefore seems to be the most likely for these Tristan birds.

   Shy (or White-capped) Albatross  Thalassarche (cauta) cauta/steadi ;  videograbs (20x).
   Tristan da Cunha, 1 April 2002.

   Shy (or White-capped) Albatross  Thalassarche (cauta) cauta/steadi ;  videograbs (20x).
   Tristan da Cunha, 2 April 2002.
   A different bird than the one shown above, as it showed less wing moult (or even none at all).

 


Copyright ©Teus Luijendijk 2003