Wisdom, the World’s Oldest Known Wild Bird, is a Mother Again

Scientists are once again marveling over Wisdom, the world’s oldest known banded bird in the wild, who has welcomed another chick at the age of 68.

Earlier this winter, wildlife officials announced that she had again returned to her home at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, along with her mate, Akeakamai.

They soon followed up with news that she had laid yet another egg.

46131640712_8ac42bc73f_zWisdom incubating her egg. Credit: Madalyn Riley/USFWS

She’s now believed to be at least 68-years-old, and has far surpassed the average lifespan of Laysan albatross, which is estimated to be between 12 and 40 years old. Not only that, but she’s believed to have successfully raised between 31 and 36 chicks in her lifetime, and she’s still going strong.

46967531982_c6cce3a9b9_zAkeakamai watching their newest chick. Credit: Bob Peyton/USFWS

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which oversees the refuge, it’s unusual for albatross to return home and lay and hatch an egg every year, but Wisdom and her mate have been reappearing annually without fail since 2006.

23286592376_f4904ec943_zWisdom and her mate, Akeakamai. Credit: Kiah Walker/USFWS

“She’s incredibly powerful as a symbol of why we do what we do and why people all over the world pay attention to her,” said Beth Flint, FWS Wildlife Biologist. “Wisdom is rewriting history about our understanding of survivorship, how long birds live, and how often they breed.”

While Wisdom is a marvel on her own who has captured the hearts of people around the world, she and her mate share their home with over three million other seabirds. According to the FWS, even though Laysan albatross spend 90 percent of their lives at sea, they return every year to the place they were born, making Midway Atoll hugely important habitat for them.

It’s now home to almost 70 percent of the world’s Laysan albatross and 40 percent of Black-footed albatross, along endangered Short-tailed albatross also call it home and 20 other different bird species. For these birds, every chick who successfully fledges helps their species survive.

“Because Laysan albatross don’t lay eggs every year and when they do, they raise only one chick at a time, the contribution of even one bird to the population makes a difference,” said Bob Peyton, FWS Project Leader for Midway Atoll Refuge and Memorial.

Unfortunately, these seabirds continue to face a major threat from being caught in fishing gear and drowning, which is killing an estimated 100,000 albatross every year, along with the growing problem of plastic in our oceans, while the atoll itself is threatened by rising sea levels.

Biologists with the FWS are continuing to work to restore habitat they need here, in addition to trying to control other threats like invasive predators, in an effort to help these seabirds thrive.

Photo credit: Madalyn Riley/USFWS

104 comments

Benjamin S
Benjamin Shaw18 days ago

nice

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Yvonne T
Yvonne Tabout a month ago

good girl!!!

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Jan S
Jan Sabout a month ago

very good

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heather g
heather gabout a month ago

Wonderful news = thanks

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Therese Kutscheid
Therese Kutscheidabout a month ago

Fantastic, Wisdom, my you and your partner live many more happy birds years.

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Debra Tate
Debra Tateabout a month ago

Awesome bird. May she live another 30 or so years!

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Geraldine R
Geraldine Rabout a month ago

AN AWESOMELY BEAUTIFUL STORY. 'WISDOM' U GO GIRL.

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Angela K
Angela Kabout a month ago

Beautiful !!!

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Nena C
Nena Cabout a month ago

She is so so pretty and so so pray she is here next yr, this plastic issue has to get solved asap for the ocean birds! Must do what we can to clean up this PLASTIC!!!!!!!

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Terri S
Terri Sabout a month ago

You go girl!!!!!!!!

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