Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Yellow-nosed Albatross - Thalassarche chlororhynchos
Search Common:                 Search Scientific:
General Comments The sight of any albatross off the Atlantic coast is a highlight in any pelagic birder's career, as only two or three of the world's roughly 17 species breed on islands in this ocean, and these islands are practically in Antarctic waters. Until 2000, there had been at least three sightings of albatrosses off the North Carolina coast. Two of these -- 17 and 19 Apr 1979 about 58 km southeast of Oregon Inlet [Chat 43:79 link] and 22 Dec 1985 out of Oregon Inlet [Chat 59:119 link] -- were suspected of being Yellow-nosed Albatrosses but were not seen well enough to rule out other albatrosses [primarily the Black-browed Albatross] and were reported as Albatross sp. A report of Yellow-nosed flying over the surf, seen from shore along the Outer Banks in spring 1997, was not accepted by the NC BRC [Chat 62:181 link]. However, it was not until February 2000 that the first definite, accepted record was made, despite probably hundreds of pelagic trips taken off the state's coast since the 1970's. As of early 2014, there are now four confirmed records (all photographed) -- two from offshore waters, and two (surprisingly) along the coastline.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SZ
Global Rank G3
Coastal Plain Casual visitor. Four confirmed records, all by photographs: one a few miles off Salvo (Dare), 5 Feb 2000* [Chat 66:88-93 link]; one in flight over Cape Hatteras Point, 11 Apr 2004* [Chat 68:116 link]; one perched at Cape Hatteras Point, 11 Apr 2006* [Chat 70:94-95 link]; and one 4 miles off Avon (Dare), 22 Feb 2014* [Chat 78:65 link]. What was likely the same individual as on 11 Apr 2006 was noted in and around a Brown Pelican colony in the Core Sound area (Carteret) in late Apr (NAB 60:362). Even though the two Cape Hatteras Point records were two years apart, to the day, one wonders if the same bird was involved in both records. Lastly, one was seen in flight over the ocean from Cape Hatteras Point on 13 Feb 2022 [Chat 86:58 link]; this report has not yet been reviewed by the NC BRC.
Piedmont No records.
Mountains No records.
Finding Tips The species is too rare to specifically look for -- but on winter pelagic trips, carefully look at all large birds (mainly Northern Gannets and Great Black-backed Gulls), as an albatross can easily be overlooked in a flock of these birds (as the 2000 bird was)!
1/2 *
Attribution LeGrand[2022-04-26], LeGrand[2018-02-01], Howard[2015-07-11]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.