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America’s Oldest Known Wild Bird (60!) Gives Birth

America’s Oldest Known Wild Bird (60!) Gives Birth

America’s oldest known wild bird is a new mother.

Wisdom, a Laysan albatross in her 60′s, has a new chick, according to the US Geological Survey.

She was spotted a few weeks ago with a chick at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the North Pacific Ocean, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced on March 8.

Wisdom Is At Least 60 Years Old

Wisdom was first banded in 1956 as she incubated an egg, and she was estimated to be at least 5 years old then. This is the earliest age at which these birds breed, though they more typically breed at 8 or 9 after an involved courtship lasting several years. She has since worn out five bird bands.

From The Christian Science Monitor:

“She looks great,” said Bruce Peterjohn, head of the bird banding program at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Laurel, Md. “And she is now the oldest wild bird documented in the 90-year history of our USGS-FWS and Canadian bird banding program. To know that she can still successfully raise young at age 60-plus, that is beyond words.”

“While the process of banding a bird has not changed greatly during the past century, the information provided by birds marked with a simple numbered metal band has transformed our knowledge of birds,” Peterjohn said in a statement.

Wisdom, Peterjohn said, has likely raised at least 30 to 35 chicks during her breeding life, though the number may well be higher because experienced parents tend to be better parents than younger breeders. An albatross will lay only one egg a year, but it takes much of a year to incubate and raise the chick, with both parents — life-partners — sharing the work.

The Albatross Has Probably Raised 35 Chicks

After years in which they have successfully raised chicks, the parents may take the occasional next year off from parenting. Wisdom also nested in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010, said John Klavitter, the FWS biologist that spotted Wisdom with her newest chick.

What an amazing story!

Click here to see a photo of Wisdom with her chick.

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Photo from iStock

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136 comments

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4:04AM PST on Feb 9, 2013

It was wonderful to learn the habitat of these birds.
At least this portion of my planet seems to be friendly for these beautiful creatures.
Great job done to find such news.

9:02AM PST on Feb 8, 2013

very good news

7:50AM PST on Feb 8, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

8:13PM PDT on Mar 23, 2011

Interesting

11:42PM PDT on Mar 19, 2011

I have only one bone to pick with this article and that is that birds, of course, do not give birth!

3:51PM PDT on Mar 19, 2011

Thanks for sharing, intesting story =]

4:24AM PDT on Mar 17, 2011

This is really cool. A realtime record by our feathered lady friend. Nice to know that Albatross bird couples live together for life...do we find here some lessons for humankind ?????????????

4:47PM PDT on Mar 16, 2011

such beautiful creatures!

6:39AM PDT on Mar 16, 2011

WHat a great name. God bless Wisdom and her chick

1:06PM PDT on Mar 15, 2011

The albatross is such a beautiful bird, what a nice story.

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Judy Molland An award-winning writer and teacher, Judy Molland is also an avid hiker, backpacker, and nature... more
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