Oldest Known Wild Bird Offers Reason to Celebrate

Wisdom the albatross welcomes a chick at 70
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2021 11:32 AM CST
Oldest Wild Bird Does It Again
In this 2018 photo provided by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Wisdom is seen at her nest at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.   (Bob Peyton/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP)

She's a mom again at 70. Wisdom the Laysan albatross, considered the oldest known wild bird, has welcomed a new chick at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii, where more than a million albatross nest each year, per the Guardian. The chick that hatched Feb. 1 is thought to be one of at least 35 offspring for Wisdom, who is part of one of the oldest studies involving continual bird banding. US Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Chandler Robbins, who died in 2017, first slapped an ankle band on Wisdom in 1956 before replacing it in 2002. Albatross lay just one egg a year, if that. Wisdom has done so in eight of the last 11 years, reports National Geographic. She and longtime partner Akeakamai returned to the nesting site in November to the glee of experts, who aren't sure how long she'll live.

She could be the exception, but "she's probably just the oldest one we know about," USFWS biologist Jon Plissner tells NatGeo. USFWS biologist Beth Flint notes Wisdom's return "not only inspires bird lovers everywhere, but helps us better understand how we can protect these graceful seabirds and the habitat they need to survive into the future," per the Honolulu Star Advertiser. Sean Dooley of BirdLife Australia adds the chick's appearance is "a cause of celebration" given the threats that sea birds, and albatross specifically, are facing from climate change, plastic pollution, and fishing industries. Invasive mice are another problem at Midway as they attack the adult birds in their nests. Wisdom and Akeakamai will now spend the next several months feeding and watching over the chick, who should be ready to leave the nest by summer. (More albatross stories.)

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