A 62-year-old albatross named “Wisdom” has successfully hatched another new chick. She hatched the latest in her brood in early February 2013, making the chick now just over five weeks old. Officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took a photograph of the new chick on March 5, 2013. The photograph shows the chick basking in the sun on the Midway Atoll in the Hawaiian Islands. Congratulations Wisdom and new chick!
Wisdom is a Laysan albatross. She is believed to be 62 years old and to be one of the oldest wild birds living in the world today. Wisdom was first banded in 1956 while she was incubating an egg. Chandler Robbins, a scientist affiliated with the U.S. Geological Survey, was the first to band Wisdom. He estimated at that time that Wisdom was at least five years old because that is the earliest age at which Laysan albatross breed.
Laysan albatross are large web-footed seabirds that lay a single egg each year during successful breeding seasons. They prefer to nest in large colonies located on remote oceanic islands. When fully grown, the wingspan of a Laysan albatross can reach up to an average of six and half feet (two meters) in length. Their large wingspan makes them excellent gliders, and they can travel long distances while exerting little physical effort.
Wisdom is estimated to have raised 30 to 35 chicks during her lifetime. She is known to have nested every year since 2008. She was also observed nesting in 2006, but not in 2007. Scientists believe that Wisdom has flown over 2 million miles since she was first banded in 1956. That distance is equivalent to about 80 trips around the Earth.
Sue Schulmeister, manager of the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, commented on the albatross in a news release. She said:
Wisdom is one is one of those incredible seabirds that has provided the world valuable information about the longevity of these beautiful creatures and reinforces the importance of breeding adults in the population. This information helps us measure the health of our oceans that sustain albatross.
Excessive hunting decimated albatross populations during the early 1900s. While hunting pressures have subsided, these birds still face threats from longline fisheries, invasive species, lead poisoning and the ingestion of plastic debris.
Bottom line: Wisdom, a 62-year-old albatross, successfully hatched a new chick in early February 2013. The chick was hatched on the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Hawaiian Islands. The chick is now just over five weeks old. Officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took a photograph of the new chick on March 5, 2013. The photograph shows the chick basking in the sunshine.
Deanna Conners is an Environmental Scientist who holds a Ph.D. in Toxicology and an M.S. in Environmental Studies. Her interest in toxicology stems from having grown up near the Love Canal Superfund Site in New York. Her current work is to provide high-quality scientific information to the public and decision-makers and to help build cross-disciplinary partnerships that help solve environmental problems. She writes about Earth science and nature conservation for EarthSky.