That’s not to say that albatross dads don’t occasionally have a dalliance with ladies who aren’t their mates. That happens. But the original pair stays intact — which is surprising when you consider that albatross couples can last for decades.
The oldest known female, Noah writes, is “named Wisdom, who, as of 2013, was still raising chicks at the age of 62.”
What’s more, they don’t see each other that often. When at sea, couples don’t hang together. It’s too easy to get separated. “So even the most committed partners habitually spend months at a time alone, without knowing what their mates are up to.”
They don’t build nests every year. Often, they’ll wait for two. But when the urge is on them, somehow they both manage to return to the nesting site at roughly the same time “almost as if the date were prearranged” and they settle in.
“There are few distractions in the life of an albatross, so the birds concentrate on things that matter most — such as one another.
They often sleep with the head of one bird cozily pillowed against the breast of its mate,” Noah writes.
Whatever it is that brings them together, albatrosses turn out to be among the animal kingdom’s most successful couplers. Nobody knows what they’ve got that makes them this way.
“Different people report seeing various things deep in the inky-black eyes of an albatross,” Noah writes. “Wisdom, serenity, wilderness, peace, endurance — which are well and good, but all I see — is love.”
Albatrosses turn out to be among the animal kingdom’s most successful couplers.