Wisdom the Laysan albatross is the oldest wild bird known to be alive on the planet but if that weren’t impressive enough, she is alsostill successfully raising chicks. The photo above is from last December when she was incubating what was likely her 36th egg. She has returned to Midway Atoll again this year, the primary nesting ground for Laysan albatross. She has a mate and is expected to raise yet another chick at the age of 64.
The Guardian reports, “[R]esearchers estimate that Wisdom has raised as many as 36 chicks in her lifetime. Wisdom was first tagged with a band in 1956. Given that Laysan albatross do not return to breed until they are at least five years old, it’s estimated that Wisdom is 64 years old, although she could be older.”
Wisdom is both the oldest wild bird known to be alive today, and is the oldest banded bird.
For a species where 70 percent of the population has disappeared in the last few decades, Wisdom is a particularly striking stand out. She is still managing to dodge the many dangers of the Pacific ocean — particularly the fishing gear and stray plastics that tend to be most deadly to albatross — and in this acts as a symbol of hope for the survival of the species as a whole.
“Wisdom left soon after mating but we expect her back any day now to lay her egg,” says 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.”