Colored Pencil & gouache on toned paper
The Laysan Albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) is built to soar. With its 77-80” wing span, this smaller species of albatross uses both dynamic and slope soaring techniques to skillfully ride the eddies of air that occur just above the waves. This method allows the bird to cover over 600 miles a day with minimal muscular or metabolic expenditure. These birds are often out to sea for months at a time. Their musculature is not suited to sustained flapping, so the albatross will rest on the water’s surface when winds are calm rather than wasting energy. The wings include a sesamoid bone, or spreader bone and patagial fan that connects the ligaments from shoulder to wrist, and supports the propatagium. This system of tendons locks the extended wing to minimize muscular effort. The patagium creates a curve in the rigid wing, and this extra surface area helps streamline flight. The bird has an extended forearm to support the secondary feathers, which are especially important in soaring.