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Diomedea exulans

The wandering albatross or goonie (Diomedea exulans) is a large seabird which lives in a circumpolar range in the Southern Ocean. With the longest wingspan of any bird, this is one of the most far-ranging birds. Some wandering albatrosses have covered more than 120,000 km (or 75,000 miles) in one year.

This bird’s wingspan measures from 2.51 to 3.5 m (8 ft 3 in to 11 ft 6 in), with a mean span of 3.1 m (10 ft 2 in) in the Bird Island, South Georgia colony. Meanwhile, in Malabar, New South Whales, the average wingspan is 3 m (9 ft 10 in).

On the Crozet Islands, adults averaged 3.05 m (10 ft 0 in) in wingspan. Finally, two giants have reportedly measuring 4.22 m (13 ft 10 in) and 5.3 m (17 ft 5 in). As a result of this bird’s massive wingspan, it is capable of remaining in the air without flapping its wings for several hours at a time (travelling 22 m for every metre of drop).

This bird’s plumage varies with age. Juveniles start out chocolate brown. However, they become whiter as they age. Adults have white bodies with black and white wings. Males have whiter wings than females. Meanwhile, they display a faint peach spot on the side of the head. Their large bill is pink, as are the feet, and they have a salt gland that is situated above the nasal passage and helps desalinate their bodies. They need this because of the high amount of ocean water that they drink.

Though this species breeds on South Georgia Island, Crozet Islands, Kerguelen Islands, Prince Edward Islands, and Macquarie Island, it spends most of its life in flight.

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