The world’s oldest bird, a Laysan albatross named Wisdom, was first banded in 1956!
Wisdom the Laysan albatross has returned to the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge once again! The world’s oldest bird, Wisdom has been returning to Midway for 64 straight years to mate and raise a chick. Wisdom may actually be even older than 64 as the Laysan albatross usually leaves for five years before returning to their place of birth to mate.
“Wisdom left soon after mating but we expect her back any day now to lay her egg,” said Deputy Refuge Manager Bret Wolfe. “It is very humbling to think that she has been visiting Midway for at least 64 years. Navy sailors and their families likely walked by her not knowing she could possibly be rearing a chick over 50 years later. She represents a connection to Midway’s past as well as embodying our hope for the future.”
The Laysan albatross typically mates for life, but Wisdom has had several mates. When you are the world’s oldest bird, having multiple mates is to be expected. During her impressively long lifetime, Wisdom has successfully raised 36 chicks. Albatrosses spend six months tending to their offspring and often fly hundreds of miles out to sea in search of food like squid.
Ornithologists estimate that Wisdom has flown over six million miles throughout her lifetime between foraging for food and migrating. Considering all of the dangers that confront sea birds, including but not limited to predators, disease, and habitat destruction, Wisdom’s long life is truly something to marvel at.
“In the face of dramatic seabird population decreases worldwide –70% drop since the 1950’s when Wisdom was first banded–Wisdom has become a symbol of hope and inspiration,” according to Refuge Manager Dan Clark. We are a part of the fate of Wisdom and it is gratifying to see her return because of the decades of hard work conducted to manage and protect albatross nesting habitat.”
You may be asking yourself how they know it is the same bird after all these years. Banded birds do sometimes lose their bands in the wild, but Wisdom has never had that happen. Her bands have also been replaced from time to time and bird banding records are meticulously tended to.
While another wild bird may eventually claim the title of world’s oldest bird from Wisdom, hopefully that doesn’t happen anytime soon. Keep on flying Wisdom!