A 65-year-old Laysan albatross named Wisdom has hatched a chick recently. The information was provided by the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific Ocean. Astonishingly, it’s the sixth chick that the bird has hatched since 2006. It’s the only known bird to hatch chicks at such a ripe, old age. Typically, albatrosses do not live past their mid-thirties. In addition to that, experts say that they become infertile during their older years.
Experts at the Bird Banding Laboratory at the U.S. Geological Services Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD, are estimating that this is the fortieth chick that Wisdom has hatched over the many years she’s been alive.
They’ve been tracking this bird since 1956, when they first put a band around her ankle. The same employee that banded her then came across her in 2001. Astonished, the expert named her “Wisdom,” as she had lived to the ripe age of 49 by that time.
She’s not the only old albatross to hatch a chick, though. A British albatross named Grandma held the previous record. She hatched a chick when she was 62. Grandma has not been seen in quite some time, however, and is presumed to have died after being absent from her nesting ground for over six years.
Every year, Wisdom flies around the world. And this time around, the experts were shocked to see her return at this age. They’ve named her new chick Kūkini, which translates from Hawaiian to English as “swift messenger.”
Biologists estimate that Wisdom has logged more than 3 million miles in the air. This is the equivalent of flying roundtrip to the moon from earth at least four times.
It brings to meaning the adage, “old bird.” In this case, it’s entirely true. Experts are certain to note that this is very unusual for this species of bird and just about every other bird species. But for Wisdom, she’s a special, one-a-kind bird that apparently still has some nesting days left in her.
You can follow Wisdom on her feathery adventures here: http://www.fws.gov/nwrs/threecolumn.aspx?id=2147583359.