This section is from "The American Cyclopaedia", by George Ripley And Charles A. Dana. Also available from Amazon: The New American Cyclopędia. 16 volumes complete..
Albatross (diomedea), a genus of web-footed sea birds, which has three species - the common albatross, D. exulans, the albatross of China, D. fuliginosa, and the yellow and black-beaked albatross, D. chlororynchos. The genus is distinguished principally by a very strong, hard, straight beak, which suddenly curves downward, with a sharp hook at the point. The feet are short; the three toes long and completely webbed; the wings very long and narrow. The common albatross is the largest sea bird known, weighing from 12 to 28 lbs. The usual extent of its wings is about 11 feet; but a specimen in the Leverian museum measured 13 feet, and one was shot off the Cape of Good Hope of 17 1/2 feet in extent. The top of its head is ruddy gray; all the rest of its plumage white, with the exception of a few transverse black bands on its back, and a few of the wing feathers. It is abundant from the Southern ocean to Behring strait and the coast of Kamtchatka, frequenting the inner sea about the Kurile islands and the bay of Penshinsk, in vast flocks, but scarcely visiting at all the eastern or American coasts. Its voracity is extreme, and it is said that it will often swallow whole a salmon of four or five pounds weight.
Its ordinary food is fish, fish spawn, and small shell fish; but it does not hesitate to take any animal substance found floating on the surface of the waves, and is often taken by sailors with a line and hook baited with a piece of fat pork. Its powers on the wing are extraordinary, as might be presupposed from the extreme lightness of its immense hollow wing bones, which are said by Edwards to be as long as the whole body, and which the Kamtchatdales use as tobacco pipes; and from the great height, power, and continuance of its flight, sailors, who know it generally as the "man-of-war bird," among other strange notions, believe that it sleeps on the wing.
Albatross (Diomedea exulans).