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World’s Oldest Known Wild Bird becomes a Mom for 40th Time at Age 70

Wisdom, world's oldest known albatross | Image credit: Twitter

Wisdom, world's oldest known albatross | Image credit: Twitter

A Laysan albatross named Wisdom lives in Midway Atoll in Hawaii and has recently given birth to what is at least her 40th chick.

The world’s oldest known wild bird, a Laysan albatross named Wisdom, turned 70 this year. On February 1, 2021, she reared what is known to be at least her 40th chick. The bird hatched the baby on the Midway Atoll in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean. The feat has aroused interest in the minds of researchers as it has stretched the boundaries of human knowledge of how birds live. Back in the year 1956, Wisdom was found by scientists and was estimated to be of age 5. It happens to be the earliest time when albatrosses can reach sexual maturity. It was then that scientists attached a red identifying ankle band for the first time to Wisdom.

As perHonolulu Star Advertiser, she may be a little older than 70 now and has outlived the researcher who banded her for the first time. The Midway Atoll where the new chick was hatched last month is a tiny scrap of land, about 1,300 miles northwest of Hawaii. Since her vitals were first recorded when she was 5, Wisdom hasn’t stopped laying eggs. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the septuagenarian seabird has been raising chicks with her mate, named Akeakamai, since at least 2010. Laysan albatross are typically believed to partner up for life, but given Wisdom’s longevity, she had to find several new companions after she outlived her former mates.

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Wisdom returned to the atoll in late November and wildlife officials anticipated it to be an exciting arrival. They believed that she might reach a milestone on her birthday and rear another chick. Until the early 21st century, scientists thought that Laysan albatrosses can live a maximum age of around 40-years-old. However, Wisdom has rewritten history in natural books.

In 2002, biologist Chandler Robbins of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was working on the Midway Atoll. He recaptured a bird that needed a tattered ankle band to be replaced. He found the bird in question was 51 years old. Wisdom was immediately secured into spot as the oldest bird ever recorded. To his disbelief, Robbins found that it was him who had banded Wisdom in 1956. He died in 2017 aged 98. Wisdom’s extraordinary longevity and remarkable late-life chick-rearing has won her internet fame. Wisdom may be twice or thrice the expected lifespan of a Laysan albatross. For this reason, biologists are actively gathering data and learning about the species.

Beth Flint, a biologist with the Marine National Monuments of the Pacific, said, “We don’t know exactly how many chicks she’s raised, but certainly at least 35 based on what we know about her recent years’ performance.”

first published:March 04, 2021, 21:28 IST