Black-Footed Albatross (Phoebastria nigripes)

Federal Register | Recovery | Critical Habitat | Conservation Plans | Petitions | Life History

Listing Status:   

General Information

Adult Black-footed Albatross are large seabirds though small compared with other albatross species. They are very long with narrow wings, mostly dusky brown, white at the base of their bill and under eye, and have a large bill. Juveniles are similar to adults, but usually have less white at the bill base.

References cited in Species Profile

  • Awkerman, Jill A., David J. Anderson and G. Causey Whittow. 2008. Black-footed Albatross (Phoebastria nigripes), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:
  • Cornell Lab of Ornithology. 2015. Black-footed Albatross. All About Birds.
  • Fisher, H. I. 1972. Sympatry of Laysan and Black-footed albatrosses. Auk 89:381-402.
  • Government of Canada. 2015. COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Black-footed Albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) in Canada.
  • Harrison, C. S. 1990. Seabirds of Hawaii Natural History and Conservation. Cornell University Press, Ithaca.
  • Rice, D. W. and K. W. Kenyon. 1962a. Breeding distribution, history and populations of North Pacific albatrosses. Auk 79:365-386.
  • Tickell, W. L. N. 2000. Albatrosses. Yale University Press, New Haven.

    Current Listing Status Summary
    Status Date Listed Lead Region Where Listed
    Pacific Region (Region 1) Wherever found

    » Federal Register Documents

    Federal Register Documents
    Date Citation Page Title
    2009-08-26 00:00:00.0 74 FR 43092 43093 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List the Black-Footed Albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) as Threatened or Endangered
    2011-10-07 00:00:00.0 76 FR 62504 62565 12-Month Finding on a Petition To List the Black-footed Albatross as Endangered or Threatened
    2007-10-09 00:00:00.0 72 FR 57278 57283 90-Day Finding on a Petition to List the Black-Footed Albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) as Threatened or Endangered

    » Recovery

    No recovery information is available for the Black-Footed Albatross.

    » Critical Habitat

    No critical habitat rules have been published for the Black-Footed Albatross.

    » Conservation Plans

    No conservation plans have been created for Black-Footed Albatross.

    » Petitions

    » Life History

    Habitat Requirements

    Nests in upper levels of exposed sandy beach islands while spending non-breeding season on open ocean.

    Food Habits

    Mostly flying fish eggs; also squid, adult flying fish, and crustaceans.

    Movement / Home Range

    Almost all Black-footed Albatross breed in the northwest Hawaiian Islands, as the largest breeding colonies occur on the Midway Atoll. Immature birds primarily spend winters in the eastern North Pacific, which is likely where adult birds also remain. Breeding adults leave nesting colonies in June; food distribution and wind are likely the most significant factors affecting their movements.

    Reproductive Strategy

    Nest construction responsibilities are shared between both sexes, which involves forming scooped-out hollows in sand.


    Long-line fishing and plastic pollution are serious threats to the conservation of the Black-footed Albatross. Drift nets kill large numbers of this species, with 4,426 deaths documented in 1990. They also remain vulnerable to oil pollution of marine waters. In 1992, the worldwide Black-footed Albatross population was estimated to be 200,000 individuals. In 2000, an estimated 109,000 mature individuals indicated a decreasing trend.

    » Other Resources

    NatureServe Explorer Species Reports -- NatureServe Explorer is a source for authoritative conservation information on more than 50,000 plants, animals and ecological communtities of the U.S and Canada. NatureServe Explorer provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too. NatureServe Explorer is a product of NatureServe in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network.

    ITIS Reports -- ITIS (the Integrated Taxonomic Information System) is a source for authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

    FWS Digital Media Library -- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Digital Library is a searchable collection of selected images, historical artifacts, audio clips, publications, and video.