Black-footed Albatross

Diomedea nigripes

Black-footed Albatrosses are regular summer birds in the Bering Sea, although they generally prefer the deeper waters beyond the continental shelf. From Saint Paul to the shelf is roughly 40 miles, but given strong enough winds Black-foots will occasionally come close enough to be seen from shore. The best storms seem to be sustained 25+ knot winds from the South or Southwest. Prolonged seawatching from Southwest Point, Reef Point or East Landing may reward a visiting birder with a lucky glimpse. Both Short-tailed and Laysan Albatrosses also could be found in this manner. Laysan and adult Short-tailed Albatrosses have white underparts, but young Short-tailed’s are mostly dark and from a distance could be hard to separate from Black-footed Albatross. Although Short-tailed Albatrosses are markedly larger than Black-foots, size can be a deceptive field mark so check for the bill color, which is pink on Short-tailed and dark on Black-footed. Fishing and research vessels patrolling the offshore waters around the Pribilofs regularly encounter all three species.