World's Oldest Banded Bird Returns Home To Breed

Posted: Dec 1 2015, 8:47am CST | by , Updated: Dec 1 2015, 5:54pm CST, in Latest Science News


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World's Oldest Banded Bird Returns Home to Breed
Kiah Walker, USFWS
  • Wisdom the albatross returns home to breed

Wisdom is the oldest banded bird who returned to the wildlife refuge to mate once more before she takes off again.

Wisdom, the 64 year old, beautiful Laysan albatross and the oldest bird in existence to be banded, returned to the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. The bird made her return to the refuge on November 19th. She was observed a few days later with her mate. She departed soon after mating. The refuge workers expect her back any day to lay her egg.

1956 was the year that Wisdom was first banded in. Laysan albatross are recorded not to return to breed until they are at least five years old. Experts estimate that Wisdom is at least 64 years old, but she could be older.

Laysan albatrosses typically mate for life, it is probable that Wisdom has likely had more than one mate and has raised as many as 36 chicks by laying only one egg per year. In case of a breeding albatross, it will spend a tiring 130 days, give or take, in incubating and raising a chick.

When the birds are not tending to their chicks, albatross commit themselves to foraging hundreds of miles out at sea. They periodically return with meals of squid or flying fish eggs. Wisdom has likely clocked over six million ocean miles of flight time.

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