Story: Seabirds – overview

Petrels large and small (1st of 2)

Petrels large and small

Albatrosses are petrels, and the largest members of the Procellariiformes order. Of these, one of the heftiest is the northern royal albatross, weighing around 9 kilograms. In normal flight northern royals stretch their wings to their full span of 3 metres and tuck their feet back. Here, they are preparing to land. Such heavy birds would expend a lot of energy if they relied on flapping their wings to stay airborne, but albatrosses use the wind to glide great distances. Like other petrels, their large nostrils are encased in a tube (giving them the collective name tubenoses), and some researchers think these function like a barometer, detecting small changes in atmospheric pressure and allowing the bird to make the best use of weather systems.

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Department of Conservation
Reference: 10025697
Photograph by C. J. R. Robertson

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How to cite this page:

Kerry-Jayne Wilson, 'Seabirds – overview - Who are the seabirds?', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/5471/petrels-large-and-small (accessed 9 December 2019)

Story by Kerry-Jayne Wilson, published 12 Jun 2006, reviewed & revised 17 Feb 2015