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The World’s Oldest Known Bird Is Almost 70 yrs old

Wisdom, a Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) who is at least 68 years old, recently hatched a new chick at her nesting ground in Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge.

You may wonder, how are we so sure about Wisdom’s age.

These birds are branded and tracked. The very first albatross on the Midway Atoll was given a band and number in 1936. Since then, 250,000 albatrosses have been banded, letting researchers keep track of specific birds.

Wisdom was banded in 1956 by ornithologist Chandler Robbins. At the time, she was estimated to be around six years of age because she had returned to the breeding site as an adult, which these birds don’t do until they’re around five and ready to find a mate.

So, if Wisdom was five in 1956 (although she could have been older), it would mean that she is at least 68 years old today.

After a brief hiatus, Robbins found and re-tagged Wisdom during the 2001/2002 season and since then she’s been a regular visitor of the Midway Atoll.


Wisdom’s mate Akeakamai stands over their newly hatched chick. (Bob Peyton/USFWS)

Albatross’ generally have a life span of about 50 years and in a world that’s plagued by fear of extinction and climate change, it’s so refreshing to find that some animals like Wisdom are beating the odds.
Together with her mate Akeakamai, Wisdom has raised between 31 and 36 hatchlings, and it looks like she’s not stopping.


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