Family Albatrosses (Diomedeidae)

Near Threatened

White-capped Albatross (Thalassarche steadi)


French: Albatros de Stead German: Aucklandalbatros Spanish: Albatros capiblanco

Thalassarche cauta steadi


, 1933,

Foveaux Strait, New Zealand


Until recently considered conspecific with T. cauta, T. eremita and T. salvini (see latter two below); in past, was often treated as a synonym of cauta, and normally still considered conspecific#R#R; indeed, differences from cauta are small (genetic distance only 0·2%#R), involving greater size (on basis of published evidence#R, effect size for wing 2.12, score 2); no yellow at base of bill of adult vs typically yellow bill base#R#R) (2); paler grey cheek (1); slightly later breeding season (Nov–Dec vs Sept–Oct) (no score accepted here). A score of 5 suggests subspecies status, but taxon accepted by ACAP (Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels) as a full species, largely on account of earlier genetic studies#R#R; pending further clarifications, this arrangement provisionally and precautionarily accepted here. Monotypic.

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

S Atlantic and S Indian Oceans to Australasian waters, breeding in Auckland and Antipodes Is.

Descriptive notes

90–100 cm; 2600–5300 g. Mid-sized black, slate-grey and white albatross with black thumbmark at base of leading edge of underwing. Bold white cap contrasting with pale silver... read more


No known differences in vocalizations between present species and T. cauta.


Marine; less pelagic than many albatrosses, frequently occurring over continental shelf and even... read more

Food and feeding

Dietary information much less detailed than for T. cauta. Main foods include, fish, cephalopods, crustaceans and tunicates.... read more


Breeding frequency and season poorly known, but recent indications are that it breeds biennially, with annual probability of breeding... read more


Tracking studies, bird band recoveries and DNA-based identification of bycatch specimens have... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently treated as Near Threatened. Annual breeding population estimated at c. 100,000 pairs in 2012 (versus estimates of 70,000–80,000 pairs in... read more

Recommended citation

del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). White-capped Albatross (Thalassarche steadi). 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 30 March 2020).