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Albatrosses: Diomedeidae

Chatham Mollymawk (diomedea Cauta Eremita): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Chatham mollymawks weigh in at 6.8 to 10.4 pounds (3.1 to 4.7 kilograms) and is the largest of the mollymawk family. They have a white body, dark gray head, and black upper wing and tail. The underwing is white except for wingtip and small dark patch at base of wing. Their bill is yellow with a dark tip and the cheek has an orange stripe across it.

Geographic range: Chatham mollymawks breed only at The Pyramid, a small rocky area of the Chatham Islands. They rarely stray far from this site, even during the nonbreeding season.

Habitat: Chatham mollymawks build small nests of soil and sparse vegetation on rocky slopes and ledges. These nests usually collapse and must be rebuilt every season.

Diet: They live off of krill, barnacles, and fish. They also scavenge behind fishing boats for bait and other discarded marine life.

Behavior and reproduction: During both threat and courtship, the mollymawk makes shrill buzzing sounds with its open mouth. Chatham mollymawks lay one egg between the end of August and beginning of October each year. Both parents share incubation duties with individual turns lasting no longer than five days. The youngest known mollymawk to breed was seven years old. This albatross mates with one partner for life.

Chatham mollymawks and people: There is no known interaction between this species and humans other than what is generally known about human use of albatrosses.

Chatham mollymawks build their nests on rocky slopes and ledges at a place in the Chatham Islands known as "The Pyramid." (Illustration by Dan Erickson. Reproduced by permission.)

Conservation status: The Chatham mollymawk is Critically Endangered, facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, because it has only one breeding site. ∎

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsAlbatrosses: Diomedeidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Behavior And Reproduction, Chatham Mollymawk (diomedea Cauta Eremita): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, DIET, ALBATROSSES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS