Northern Royal Albatross in flight
The Northern Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi) seen here off Taiaroa Head in Dunedin, New Zealand. Taiaroa Head is home to the only mainland nesting colony with 150 of these massive birds, all other nesting colonies are located on remote subantarctic islands. The Taiaroa colony was established in 1938 when the first fledgeling was observed. Albatross are not native to this particular area. They only colonized Taiaroa head after the construction and subsequent removal of the armory left flatter land and grasses in place of shrubbery, making a suitable nesting ground for these sea birds. Albatross spend much of their lives flying only coming to land every other year to mate and lay a single egg. Amazingly they can fly over 100's of km without every flapping their wings. They actually glide using a special locking mechanism in their shoulders and wind for lift. This lack of wing flapping means that their breast muscles are not well developed like most other birds.