Tags: 64-year-old | albatross | mating

64-Year-Old Albatross With 6M Miles on Birdometer Still Mating

Image: 64-Year-Old Albatross With 6M Miles on Birdometer Still Mating

Wisdom gets a little peck from her mate. (Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge)

By    |   Wednesday, 02 Dec 2015 06:47 AM

A 64-year-old albatross named Wisdom, believed to be the oldest known tracked bird in the wild, has returned with a mate to a large nesting colony on Midway Atoll where scientists now watch to see if she lays and hatches an egg.

The bird was spotted at the National Wildlife Refuge at the atoll, located northwest of the Hawaiian Islands, on Nov. 19, according to Maui Now. The Laysan albatross is was first banded in 1956, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"In the face of dramatic seabird population decreases worldwide –70 percent drop since the 1950's when Wisdom was first banded – Wisdom has become a symbol of hope and inspiration," said 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."

Deputy refuge manager Bret Wolfe said Wisdom left the atoll after mating but was expected to return to lay her egg.

"It is very humbling to think that she has been visiting Midway for at least 64 years," said Wolfe. "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."

Albatrosses have been documented to live as long as 50 years, according to National Geographic. They have the longest wingspan of any bird – up to 11 feet. The bird uses its large wingspan to glide the ocean winds sometimes for hours without rest or even a flap of their wings. The often skim the ocean looking for food like squid or flying fish eggs.

Wildlife officials said they believe Wisdom has raised as many as 36 chicks over her lifetime and has flown more than six million miles during that time. 

Wisdom was first banded by ornithologist Chandler Robbins, and her band has been "continuously replaced and because of meticulous record keeping associated with bird banding." Many birds lose their tracking bands before they can be replaced.

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A 64-year-old albatross named Wisdom, believed to be the oldest known tracked bird in the wild, has returned with a mate to a large nesting colony on Midway Atoll where scientists now watch to see if she lays and hatches an egg.
64-year-old, albatross, mating
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2015-47-02
Wednesday, 02 Dec 2015 06:47 AM
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