Chatham and White-capped Albatrosses attempt breeding on the Snares Islands, New Zealand

The Snares Islands lie south of New Zealand.  They support sizable breeding populations of Buller's Thalassarche bulleri and Salvin's T. salvini Albatrosses (Miskelly 1984, Miskelly et al. 2001).  In addition, a single pair of Black-browed Albatrosses T. melanophris has been reported incubating and with a young chick in different years on Toru Islet in the Western Chain (Miskelly et al. 2001).


New information on the rarer breeding albatrosses of the Western Chain comes from recent visits to the Snares by Matt Charteris of New Zealand.


A Chatham Albatross was photographed incubating an egg on the western face of Rima Islet on 13 October 2008 (partner unknown).  In the same month a Chatham Albatross was observed incubating on Toru Islet, with at least three other birds present.  Previously this species has only been recorded breeding on Toru in the Western Chain (one bird incubating in 1995), although birds have been reported ashore on Rima (Miskelly et al. 2001).  During September/October 2009 a Chatham Albatross was observed incubating an egg on Toru.   Its partner was confirmed as a Salvin's Albatross.


On 30 September 2009, a White-capped Albatross was photographed incubating an egg on Rima Islet in the Western Chain.  The bird's partner was not observed.  This species has been reported ashore as singletons on two occasions on Toru Islet, one of which was displaying with non-breeding Salvin's Albatrosses (Miskelly 1984, Miskelly et al. 2001).  The Rima bird thus appears to be the first breeding record of the White-capped Albatross in the Snares Island Group.


Black-browed Albatrosses were not proven breeding during the 2008 and 2009 visits, although two birds were seen ashore on Toru Islet in both years, one of which occupied a nest mound.


With grateful thanks to Matt Charteris of Waybacks Limited, Buller, New Zealand for supplying the information and photographs.




Miskelly, C.M. 1984.  Birds of the Western Chain, Snares Islands 1983-84.  Notornis 31: 209-223.

Miskelly, C.M., Sagar, P.M., Tennyson, A.J.D. & Scofield, R.P. 2001.  Birds of the Snares Islands, New Zealand.  Notornis 48: 1-40.


John Cooper, ACAP Information Officer, 19 March 2010

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