Family Albatrosses (Diomedeidae)


Northern Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi)


French: Albatros de Sanford German: Nordkönigsalbatros Spanish: Albatros real septentrional

Diomedea (Rhothonia) sanfordi


, 1917,

at sea, 40 miles [c. 64 km] off Corral, south-central Chile


Until recently was normally considered conspecific with D. epomophora, but differs in its smaller size (based on published data#R, effect size for male bill −5.5, score 3); lack of white on upperwing (3); black carpal mark on underwing#R (1); only two plumage stages vs five#R (ns); and possible ecological or behavioural difference in that it nests “in far denser colonies than any other great [= Diomedea] albatross”#R (ns). Monotypic.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.

Southern Ocean, breeding in New Zealand (Otago Peninsula, South I), Auckland Is (Enderby I)#R and Chatham Is.

Descriptive notes

107–122 cm; c. 6350–8804 g; wingspan 290–351 cm. Large albatross with white body and head; almost lacks wavy dark vermiculations, except on scapulars, where boldly blotched... read more


Yapping croaks and whining calls, with no significant differences between present species and D... read more


Marine, but apparently less pelagic than D. exulans. Nests on remote islands, typically on... read more

Food and feeding

Mainly cephalopods (many species, especially onychoteuthids, Moroteuthopsis ingens, Kondakovia longimana, ... read more


Biennial (though unsuccessful pairs may breed again following year), starting early Oct with return to colonies (males twice as likely to... read more


Disperses widely over Southern Ocean after breeding, though only infrequently penetrates Antarctic... read more

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. Population currently estimated by BirdLife International at 6500–7000 pairs, of which c. 5200–5800 pairs breed annually, c. 17,000 mature individuals and perhaps... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Northern Royal Albatross (Diomedea sanfordi). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 20 October 2019).