Their name was given to them because of their short white tail. Short-tailed Albatross are usually around 33-37 inches tall, with wingspans up to 91 inches long. These sea-birds’ bodies are white, with a tan-white head through neck. They have grey, webbed feet, pink beaks, and white and black wings. Juvenile Short-tailed Albatross have dark, brown, bodied with an almost fully pink beak.
During the breeding season, (late fall) it has been noted that Short-tailed Albatross have been nesting on just four islands. Most of them nest on Torishima, while mostly all of the rest nest on Minami-Kojima in the Senkaku Islands.
In the non-breeding season, they range across the North Pacific with the males and juveniles gathering in the Bering sea and the females ranging off the coast of Japan. They can also be found in the west coast of the USA, which includes California, Washington and Oregon.
Nesting and Nestlings:
These birds mate for life. Breeding starts when Short-tailed Albatross are about 7 or 8 years old. Females lay one egg each year which hatch about a month or more later (December or January). After hatching, the newborns stay by the nest for about 5 months, and they become fledglings in about June.
Short-tailed Albatross’ main diet is squid, fish and shrimp, but will swim around ships and look for pieces of meat that fisherman discard. They hunt by alighting on the surface of the ocean to catch their prey.
“Over exploitation by humans is the main cause of endangerment of the short-tailed Albatross. Albatross of all kinds were once highly sought after by humans.” ~Bagheera.com
In Japan Short-tailed Albatrosses are called ‘Ahodori’ which means ‘fool-bird’, Why the demeaning name? They were given the nickname, because they would remain at their nests as humans walked through the breeding grounds hunting for them, to could kill them and take their feathers. The Japanese feather collectors killed so many of these birds, that it lead to the dramatic decline of their species during the 19th and 20th Centuries. Today, fishing industry practices, such as long lining, threaten these Albatross just as it does to many other species of seabirds. Some, believe that the species are now incredibly vulnerable to volcanic eruptions, one reason why the think that, is because the majority of the Short-tailed Albatross population breeds, where 125 people were killed at once by an eruption in 1902.