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The Laysan Albatross (Diomedea immutabilis), sometimes known as "Gooney Birds," are remarkable birds. They live at sea, returning to land for only a few months a year to raise their young. Taking advantage of their highly adapted anatomy and their mastery of air currents, gooney.jpg - 16720 Bytes they have been known to fly as far as eight thousand miles at a time without returning to the ground.

About a million and a half of these birds live around the Pacific islands; two thirds nest at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Smaller populations may be found nesting on the island of Kauai in Hawaii and in a few other areas. There they can be seen doing their unusual courting dances and making a variety of amazing sounds. A few sit on or near their eggs. These birds can have wingspans as great as six feet.

Gooney Trivia

Seventy percent of the world's Laysan albatross population nests on Midway. The nickname, goonie, comes from the graceful flyer's awkward landing and its bobbing, beak-tucking courtship dance. Albatrosses drink sea water. Excess salt is extracted by a gland at the top of the bird's head, channeled down a groove in the beak, and shaken off. Parents swallow squid and flying-fish eggs from the ocean surface to regurgitate as food for their chicks.
Albatrosses mate for life and can live as long as forty years. In windy weather they can stay aloft for hous without ever flapping their wings.

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