Wisdom, the World’s Oldest Known Wild Bird, Is Expecting Yet Another Chick

Year after year, the world’s oldest known wild bird has continued to thrill her fans by reappearing at her home in the Pacific and this year she’s returned yet again, adding to the excitement by breaking her own record as the world’s oldest breeding bird in the wild.

Wildlife officials have announced that Wisdom, a Laysan albatross who is the oldest known banded bird in the world, has again reappeared at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge with her mate, Akeakamai.

23286592376_f4904ec943_zCredit: Kiah Walker/USFWS Pacific Region

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which oversees the refuge, staff were hoping to see her return, but suspected she may take a year off from breeding to molt. She, however, had her own plans and has surprised everyone again.

Now believed to be at least 66-years-old, Wisdom’s age isn’t her only impressive quality – she’s still breeding and is expecting yet another chick.

31368620171_e13ea9848d_zWisdom incubating her new egg, December 2016. Credit: USFWS Pacific Region

“I find it impressive that not only has Wisdom returned for over six decades as the oldest living, breeding bird in the wild, but also that biologists here on Midway have been keeping records that have allowed us to keep track of her over the years,” said Charlie Pelizza, FWS Acting Project Leader for Midway Atoll Refuge and Memorial. “When I made it to lunch, I knew something was up. The staff was abuzz with the news that Wisdom was back and incubating. It’s amazing what a bit of good news can do to brighten the day.”

Wisdom, who was first banded back in 1956 when she was believed to be just 5-years-old,  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 more than a mind-blowing six million ocean miles of flight time since then. She has also raised at least eight chicks since 2006, and as many as 40 throughout her life. Last year, she successfully fledged another, Kūkini, whose name is Hawaiian for messenger.

24806129731_1ceef599d1_zAkeakamai and Kūkini, February 2016. Credit: Kiah Walker/USFWS Pacific Region

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

Today, the refuge 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, along with 20 different species of birds.

The main threats to their survival include getting caught in fishing gear, and plastic pollution. Despite being on a remote island about 12,000 miles northwest of Hawaii, the birds of Midway are still being seriously affected by our trash. Sadly, many of them consume plastic themselves, and many parents unwittingly feed deadly plastic debris to their chicks, which is taking a devastating toll.

Hopefully efforts to protect these birds will help them survive, and we’ll continue to see Wisdom and her mate return over the coming years.

For more updates on Wisdom and her family, check out the USFWS Pacific Region on Tumblr  and Flickr.

Photo credit: USFWS Pacific Region


Marie W
Marie W1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Dagmara W
Dagmara W1 years ago

Thank you

Jennifer H
Jennifer H1 years ago

Amazing! Thanks for sharing. Hopes for more to come!

Greta H
Past Member 1 years ago

Very good. Thanks.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

natasha salgado
Past Member 1 years ago

Simply incredible! Especially given the daily dangers all around.

J. H
Jan H1 years ago

Awesome! Wisdom and her mate are beautiful. Now if we would do our part by cleaning up our pollution of the oceans and our planet so that wildlife can thrive I would be very happy.

Justyna L
Justyna L1 years ago


Angela K
Angela K1 years ago

thanks for sharing

HEIKKI R1 years ago