At 63, World’s Oldest Known Bird Is Expecting Another Chick
- by Alicia Graef
- December 20, 2014
- 5:30 pm
“We are thrilled with the public’s interest in Wisdom. She really captures peoples’ imagination around the world, particularly kids’, and has become a great ambassador for conservation and Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge,” said Bret Wolfe, deputy refuge manager.
Wisdom was banded in 1956 when she was believed to be 5-years-old and has managed to survive decades – outliving many of her counterparts whose lifespans are estimated to be between 12 and 40 years.
At the end of November, she thrilled her followers with her return to her nesting site at Midway where her mate was waiting for her.
Albatross mate for life after engaging in an elaborate courtship ritual and only lay one egg every year, making it even more precious for the pair who will spend about a year raising their young together. Wisdom is thought to have successfully raised between 30 to 35 chicks since she was banded.
Earlier this month, biologists at the refuge spotted her tending to her newly hatched egg, which they expect will hatch sometime around February 6.
After her last chick arrived, Dan Clark, a refuge manager for Midway Atoll, stated:
As the world’s oldest known bird in the wild, Wisdom is an iconic symbol of inspiration and hope for all seabird species. She provides to the world valuable information about the longevity of these beautiful creatures. In the case of Wisdom, she has logged literally millions of miles over the Pacific Ocean in her lifetime to find enough fish eggs and squid to feed herself and multiple chicks, allowing us the opportunity to measure the health of our ocean which sustain albatross as well as ourselves.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which oversees the refuge, while the population of Laysan albatross has grown to an estimated 2.5 million, 19 out of the 22 species of albatross are threatened or endangered. The Midway Atoll Wildlife Refuge, which is about 1,200 miles northwest of Hawaii, is home to an estimated 70 percent of the world’s population of Laysan albatross.
These seabirds continue to face threats from fishing gear, predators and a staggering amount of plastic entering their environment. In October, NOAA sent a team to the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which includes the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, that cleaned up 57 tons of it.
Sadly, many albatross parents unwittingly feed this deadly plastic debris to their chicks, making Wisdom’s success all the more miraculous.