That old bird is at it again. That old, old bird.
Wisdom, a 62-year-old Laysan albatross known as the world’s oldest wild bird documented by banding, has hatched a chick for the sixth consecutive year at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the North Pacific Ocean.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Pete Leary witnessed the chick pecking its way into life Sunday morning and took the photo at right.
Wisdom was first banded in 1956 when it was at least 5 years old, since that’s the earliest age at which these birds breed, according to the USFWS. But typically albatross start breeding at age 8 or 9 years, so Wisdom could be even older.
What’s amazing is not only that Wisdom is breeding well into old age, but that the bird survived to see old age.
According to the book “Wisdom: The Midway Albatross,” Wisdom survived Japan’s tsunami in March 2011. It also is said to have survived longline fishing, plastic pollution, water pollution, lead poisoning, predators, storms, hurricanes, and earthquakes.
“As Wisdom rewrites the record books, she provides new insights into the remarkable biology of seabirds,” said Bruce Peterjohn, of the North American Bird Banding Program at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland. “It is beyond words to describe the amazing accomplishments of this wonder bird.”
USFWS estimates that Wisdom has logged 2 million to 3 million miles since she was first banded, and, according to Peterjohn, likely raised 30 to 35 chicks during her breeding life.
“If she were human, she would be eligible for Medicare in a couple years yet she is still regularly raising young and annually circumnavigating the Pacific Ocean,” Peterjohn said.
Photos courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; bottom photo shows Wisdom more than two months ago attempting to nudge mate off the nest to take a turn at incubating the couple’s egg.