Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wild Fact #987 - Asleep at the Wheel - Laysan Albatross

Well, I have been working tirelessly on trying to get Wild Facts' new home page up and running.  The page is still in development but if you are bored and would like to check it out then please feel free to do so.  The new site is

I would greatly appreciate any feedback on the new site.  Thanks!

All right, lets get down to business! Today's fact is about the laysan albatross which is a true ocean bird with incredible flying capabilities. This magnificent bird never touches the ground outside of the breeding season (imagine the Aeroplan Miles these guys collect).  The laysan albatross spends little effort while flying so whether it is resting or in mid-flight, its heart rate is roughly the same. From time to time, these flying machines may land on the ocean to feed or catch some shut-eye.  Although, studies have shown that they don't even need to land to catch up on that all important sleep.  That's right, these large sea-birds are capable of sleeping while gliding around the night sky.  For all the pilots out there, please don't try mimicing the laysan albatross! I wouldn't be keeping up with the spirit of this blog if I didn't tell you why the laysan albatross sleeps while flying.  The reasoning is fairly simple, they have evolved to sleep while flying to prevent hungry whales and sharks from devouring them while they rest.

Laysan Albatross Fast Fact: They are able to fly for hours and even days without flapping their wings!

Did you find this post interesting? Did you know the laysan albatross was a sleepy flier? Do you have any follow up questions?


  1. How very interesting! I do have a question for you completely off subject. It concerns hummingbirds. When do they start to migrate? Since ours are still here and enjoying their food, while we keep seeing dozens and dozens of flocks of geese heading south.


  2. Good Question!
    Different hummingbird species will be different but the ruby-throated hummingbird is the most common in North America so let's discuss their migration habits. Generally, the ruby-throated hummingbird will migrate south for the winter (to Central America) around late August and early September. Usually, all have migrated by mid-September.

    So why are you still seeing hummingbirds? It could be several things but I would think it is different hummingbirds,then the ones you saw all summer, migrating through and stopping in for some much needed energy.

    Just a note for all you hummingbird lovers: Did you know that hummingbirds feed off of insects? They just eat the nectar (and artificial hummingbird mix) for energy.

    Thanks for the question!

  3. I guess the possibility of being eaten would definitely make sleep in flight preferable.
    Aunt Bev