Albatross face-plants as it crash lands at New Zealand nest

Birds are often synonymous with grace, elegance and agility.

But one clumsy albatross might have just ruined this illusion.

In a live stream shared online, a northern royal albatross in New Zealand managed to face-plant spectacularly upon landing -- and the animal's uncoordinated descent has brought joy to thousands of viewers.

The video, captured Saturday at Taiaroa Head near the city of Dunedin on New Zealand's South Island, shows a downy six-week-old albatross chick chirping at an incoming adult, who is trying to time its landing.

Unfortunately the bird fails spectacularly, crashing headfirst and somersaulting forward into the long grass. Upside down, it pedals its legs furiously in the air for a few moments before recovering and bashfully walking out of frame.

As the clip ends, the chick who had the front row seat is left alone to gaze out over the sea.

The clip, which has received more than 200,000 views on Twitter, was caught on a live stream hosted by the New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The live stream, known since 2016 as the RoyalCam, is one of a number of "bird cams" set up by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a research and conservation institute that is part of New York's Cornell University.

The northern royal albatross is the world's biggest seabird with a wing span of more than three meters (9.8 feet) and is usually a "graceful giant," according to the DOC.

The DOC has tagged those nesting at the Taiaroa Head Nature Reserve and their lives are charted each nesting season.

"Albatrosses in general have a remarkable engineering and they are designed for flight at sea or 'dynamic soaring.' They can lock their wings out and soar over the sea for hours on end," Rory Crawford, manager of the albatross task force at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, told CNN Tuesday.

"But they're not so good at landing and this bird probably misjudged the wind or there was a sudden gust."

The task force tries to mitigate the number of seabirds caught as a byproduct of fishing.

Discussing whether the albatross would be embarrassed by such clumsiness, Crawford said that the birds "have these elaborate courtship rituals, which are normally quite choreographed, so being seen to have your act together would be important."

The albatrosses at Taiaroa Head are vulnerable because of "slow reproduction rates, changes in habitat and climate, and some fishing practices," according to the DOC's website. The birds return to land only to breed and raise their young. One chick is raised every two years.

"Albatrosses are the most threatened group of seabirds around the world," Crawford told CNN. "Fifteen of the 22 species of albatross are threatened with extinction and the biggest threat at sea is accidental capture by fisheries."

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