The Grandest Living, Flying Machine on Earth
The Albatross – bone, feathers, muscle and the wind. An albatross is its own taut longbow, the breeze its bowstring, propelling its projectile body. An art deco bird; striking of pattern, clean of line, epic in travels, and heroically faithful. A parent albatross may fly more than 10,000 miles (16,000 km) to deliver just one meal to its chick. Wielding the longest wings in nature -up to eleven and a half feet (3.5 meters) – the Albatoss can glide hundreds of miles without a single flap, crossing ocean basins, circumnavigati!lg the globe. A 50-year-old albatross has flown at least 3.7 million miles (6 million kilometers) in it’s lifetime.
Graceful as angels and tough as leather, all albatross species-about two dozen-spend months and sometimes years beyond sight of land, able to take the most hellacious punishment the ocean can hurl. While living in the windiest regions on Earth, they seem to inhabit another plane of existence.
“I now belong to a higher cult of mortals, for I have seen the Albatross!”
Robert Cushman Murphy, American Ornithologist
(From a 1912 letter to his new wife, Grace)