Wisdom, the World’s Oldest Banded Bird, Surprises Everyone With Yet Another Egg

Wisdom, a Laysan albatross who is the oldest known banded bird in the world, has continued to surprise wildlife officials and her fans by reappearing every year at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific, and this year is no exception.

At the tender age of 64 she’s returned again with her mate, who has been dubbed Goo or Mr. Goo by refuge staff, and was recently spotted incubating yet another egg.

23286592376_f4904ec943_z                                                 Credit: Kiah Walker/USFWS

Wisdom was first banded back in 1956 when she was believed to be just 5-years-old and has managed to survive decades, outliving many of her relatives whose lifespans are estimated to be between 12 and 40 years in the wild. She’s also believed to have logged a mind-blowing six million ocean miles of flight time since then.

“It is very humbling to think that she has been visiting Midway for at least 64 years. Navy sailors and their families likely walked by her not knowing she could possibly be rearing a chick over 50 years later. She represents a connection to Midway’s past as well as embodying hope for the future,” said Deputy Refuge Manager, Bret Wolfe.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which oversees the refuge, her most recent reappearance is almost a year to the day she returned to these nesting grounds last year, when she thrilled her supporters after meeting up with her mate and laying an egg.

Laysan albatrosses mate for life, after engaging in an elaborate courtship ritual, and lay only one egg every year, making each one precious to expecting parents. However, it’s suspected that Wisdom has had more than one partner during her long life and has raised as many as 36 chicks since she was first banded.

Her longevity and success as a mother in light of the growing problems seabirds face has offered hope for these birds and is seen as a sign that conservation efforts to protect the refuge, which lies with in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, are paying off.

“In the face of dramatic seabird population decreases worldwide – 70% drop since the 1950s when Wisdom was first banded – Wisdom has become a symbol of hope and inspiration,” said Refuge Manager, Dan Clark. “We are a part of the fate of Wisdom and it is gratifying to see her return because of the decades of hard work conducted to manage and protect albatross nesting habitat.”

23453436785_2626761eb7_z                                                 Credit: Dan Clark/USFWS

Today, the refuge, which is about 1,200 miles northwest of Hawaii, is home to the world’s largest population of Laysan albatross, who are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The main threats to their survival include getting caught in fishing gear, and an unfortunate amount of plastic pollution. Sadly, many albatross parents unwittingly feed deadly plastic debris to their chicks, which is taking a devastating toll.

Hopefully efforts to protect these birds will continue to help and Wisdom and her partner will have another successful year as parents. For more updates on Wisdom, check out the USFWS Pacific Region on Tumblr.

 

Photo credit: Kiah Walker/USFWS

119 comments

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey1 years ago

Wise old lady. Long life to her and her descendants.

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Mark Donner
Mark Donner1 years ago

www.theoceancleanup.com

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Marianne R.
Marianne R1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Patricia Guilhem
Patricia Guilhem1 years ago

Cette histoire est merveilleuse. Si seulement, on pouvait avoir plus souvent de bonnes nouvelles comme celle de Sagesse. Cela me rend heureuse. Belle vie à Sagesse, son amoureux et leurs enfants.

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Patricia Guilhem
Patricia Guilhem1 years ago

Cette histoire est merveilleuse. Merci de la partager. Belle vie à tous ces oiseaux.

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Pablo B.
.1 years ago

tyfs

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Sara Sezun
Sara S1 years ago

Considering that she's been alive so long, and is still healthy enough to raise chicks, ?Wisdom is clearly a very wise bird.

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Muriel Servaege
Muriel Servaege1 years ago

I find those birds gorgeous, esp. in their environment (3rd picture). They can be satified with something that's not top quality provided they find a top quality mate in a safe environment.

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Muriel Servaege
Muriel Servaege1 years ago

Thank you for sharing. Let's hope he won't feed his little ones with plastic.

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