Wisdom’s Chick

Posted: February 12, 2019

The oldest known wild bird in the world has become a mother . . . again.

The bird’s name is Wisdom. She is a Laysan albatross who lives at Midway Atoll near Hawaii. Wisdom is at least 68 years old. She has raised at least 31 chicks. People first put a band on Wisdom to track her in 1956. She was already an adult then.

Wisdom and her mate, Akeakamai, have been returning to the atoll to lay and hatch eggs since 2006. Laysan albatrosses mate for life. They lay one egg each year.

Beth Flint is a Fish and Wildlife Service biologist. She says Wisdom is teaching scientists a lot about how birds survive, how long they live, and how often they breed.

Mother and father albatrosses take turns incubating an egg for about seven months. Chicks fly out to sea about five to six months after hatching. They spend most of their lives flying over the ocean—feeding on squid and fish eggs.

Wisdom and Akeakamai aren’t the only albatrosses who think Midway Atoll makes a good home. About three million seabirds live there! About one million of those are other albatrosses. When albatrosses are ready to raise their young, they return to the place they were born themselves.

“Midway Atoll’s habitat doesn’t just contain millions of birds, it contains countless generations and families of albatrosses,” says Kelly Goodale, a biologist at the refuge. When Wisdom came home this year to hatch her newest chick, she was probably surrounded by her chicks and grandchicks!

The wisest of women builds her house. ― Proverbs 14:1

Wisdom, the world’s oldest known breeding bird, sits with a chick in a nest at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in 2018. (Bob Peyton/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP)