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Home » Headline, News

60 Year Old Albatross Has Chick

Submitted by on March 8, 2011 – 10:49 pm2 Comments
Wisdom with her chick by USFWS

Wisdom with her chick by USFWS

A Laysan Albatross named Wisdom is the oldest known bird in the United States at 60 years old and she just had a baby!

John Klavitter, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, spotted the bird a few weeks ago with a chick in the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge where he is also the deputy manager.

The bird was originally banded while incubating an egg in 1956 by U.S. Geological Survey scientist Chandler Robbins. Since then, Wisdom have worn out a total of 5 bird bands!

In 1956 Chandler conservatively estimated Wisdom to be 5 years since this is the earliest a Laysan Albatross would breed. In reality, these birds usually breed at 8 or 9 years of age after a courtship that can last several years. So, Wisdom could even be a few years older!

Bruce Peterjohn, the chief of the North American Bird Banding Program at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland said:

She looks great! And 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. While the process of banding a bird has not changed greatly during the past century, the information provided by birds marked with a simple numbered metal band has transformed our knowledge of birds.

Bruce goes on to say that Wisdom probably raised at least 30 to 35 chicks in her lifetime. An Albatross lays only one egg and it takes nearly a year to incubate and raise the chick. So sometimes these birds may take the next year off. Since Wisdom is an experienced parent, her numbers may be even higher! John saw her with chicks in 2008, 2009 and 2010! She hasn’t taken a year off for the past 4 years!

From the USGS press release:

Almost as amazing as being a parent at 60 is the number of miles this bird has likely logged – about 50,000 miles a year as an adult – which means that Wisdom has flown at least 2 to 3 million miles since she was first banded. Or, to put it another way, that’s 4 to 6 trips from the Earth to the Moon and back again with plenty of miles to spare.

I hope Wisdom is around for many more years to come!


  • Laura Ravenscraft

    Hi Andrew, nice story! No more flicker round ups? Those were my weekly bird joy time! I hope you can start it agin. Nice talking with you!

  • http://about.me/andrewacomb Andrew

    The Flickr Roundups will be back this week! So many people have been asking about them, I’m a little overwhelmed by how many people really enjoyed them! Thanks for asking!