World's Oldest Bird a New Mom

Wisdom, at least 63, has had 7 chicks in 7 years
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 15, 2014 6:59 AM CST
World's Oldest Bird a New Mom
Wisdom is seen with a chick at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in February 2011.   (AP Photo/US Geological Survey)

Wisdom the Laysan albatross is "at least" 63 years old, experts say, making her the oldest known wild bird on the planet. And, amazingly, she's still hatching chicks. Last week, a worker at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge—Wisdom's home in the north Pacific—saw the mother caring for a new chick, according to a press release. And it's a feat she's managed for each of the past seven years, LiveScience notes. For comparison, most Laysan albatrosses live between 12 and 40 years, per the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Wisdom first came to the attention of researchers while incubating an egg ... in 1956. She was tagged then, and has likely raised no fewer than 30 chicks in her lifetime.

Wisdom's "ability to continue to hatch chicks during the last half century is beyond impressive" given "the threats that albatross face at sea," says a biologist. Chief among those threats: tsunamis. Battered by five-foot waves in the wake of Japan's 2011 earthquake, some 2,000 adult albatrosses on Midway's islands were estimated to have died; Wisdom obviously survived. And she's racked up many such feats, says the refuge manager. Among them: She's "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." (We noted last year that the second-oldest albatross known to hatch a chick was 61.)

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