99% of flamingo couples split up. 67% of piping plover couples separate. But according to ornithologist Jeffrey Black, albatross couples never divorce while 1 partner is still alive.
That's his conclusion after studying the mating habits of 100 bird species. Albatrosses travel thousands of miles, roving the sea for years. They are often physical separated from their mates for months. Occasionally, they may, er, stray from fidelity (unlike urban coyotes). But the albatross couples remain together for life. Robert Krulwich writes for NPR:
What's more, they don't see each other that often. When at sea, couples don't hang together. It's too easy to get separated. "So even the most committed partners habitually spend months at a time alone, without knowing what their mates are up to."
They don't build nests every year. Often, they'll wait for two. But when the urge is on them, somehow they both manage to return to the nesting site at roughly the same time "almost as if the date were prearranged" and they settle in.
"There are few distractions in the life of an albatross, so the birds concentrate on things that matter most — such as one another. They often sleep with the head of one bird cozily pillowed against the breast of its mate," Noah writes.
Whatever it is that brings them together, albatrosses turn out to be among the animal kingdom's most successful couplers. Nobody knows what they've got that makes them this way.
-via But Not Simpler