Ecuador's Galapagos Islands - 2003

Waved albatross (so-called because of a curious waving in their neck feathers) are only half as big as wandering albatross but they have similar sweet faces. They clack beaks at each other often, but do not have the same elaborate courting rituals as their more Southern relatives (South Georgia Island in the sub Antarctic). As a matter of fact, mating often occurred with no obvious courting whatever. Curiously, after eggs are laid, the female rolls them about to determine their toughness (the amount of calcium carbonate determines the thickness and resilience of the shells). If the egg breaks during this testing and it’s early enough in the season, she mates again and lays more eggs. If it is too late in the season, she abandons the effort for that year. There are 20,000 mating pairs in the Islands.

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