Wisdom, the 65-year old albatross from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is breaking record after record. Not only is she living decades more than the average lifespan of her species, but she’s also bringing more offspring into the world.
Wisdom hatched in or around 1951. In 1956, at the estimated age of five, she was tagged by scientists at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge for study. The person who attached the tag has since retired, but Wisdom continues to live a normal lifestyle, the years passing without leaving a mark on her. Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center’s National Bird Banding Laboratory recalls:
“What is also miraculous is that biologist Chandler Robbins, who banded her as a breeding adult in 1956 on Midway Atoll, sighted her 46 years later near the same nesting location.” Robbins himself exhibits remarkable longevity, still making occasional trips to the sights where he worked despite being 97 years.
Scientists were baffled when year after year, Wisdom gave birth to a healthy chicks. She has laid around 40 eggs, which is an amazing figure. Albatrosses normally lay one egg per year and have monogamous mates for life, but Wisdom is not a normal albatross. Researchers believe that she has found a new mate since she has been breeding for so long.
“Wisdom has raised at least eight chicks since 2006, and as many as 40 in her lifetime,” the Fish and Wildlife Service says. “Just as astonishing, she has likely flown over 3 million miles since she was first tagged on Midway Atoll in 1956.” To put that in perspective, that’s easily enough mileage to go to the Moon and back.
Wisdom is by far the oldest living bird in the world – at least that we know of. She’s inspiring biologists look for new frontiers in bird longevity, displaying enviable longevity as well. Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the North American Bird Banding Program, stated:
“She is now the oldest wild bird documented in the 90-year history of our USGS-FWS and Canadian bird banding program. To know that she can still successfully raise young at age 60-plus, that is beyond words.”