Story at a glance

  • Wisdom the albatross welcomed a new chick at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge off the coast of Hawaii.
  • Researchers first banded Wisdom in 1956 as part of a long-term research project that has identified more than 275,000 albatrosses since the late 1930s.
  • Biologists estimate Wisdom has had at least 30-36 chicks over the course of her lifetime.

The world’s oldest known wild bird has become a mother again at the age of 70. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced last month that Wisdom the albatross welcomed a new chick at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge off the coast of Hawaii. The refuge is home to the largest colony of albatross in the world, where millions of the birds return to nest each year. 


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Biologists at the refuge noticed the egg pipping at the end of January and the egg finally hatched on Feb. 1. 

Researchers first banded Wisdom in 1956 as part of a long-term research project that has identified more than 275,000 albatrosses since the late 1930s. Wisdom has outlived previous mates, as well as the biologist who first banded her more than six decades ago. 

Biologists estimate Wisdom has had at least 30-36 chicks over the course of her lifetime. The USFWS says the species typically doesn’t lay eggs every year and will lay just one egg if they do. 

“At least 70 years old, we believe Wisdom has had other mates,” Beth Flint, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, said in a post announcing the new chick. “Though albatross mate for life, they may find new partners if necessary — for example if they outlive their first mate.” 

Wisdom has been hatching and raising chicks with her current mate, an albatross named Akeakamai, since at least 2012 when the male albatross was first banded by researchers. 

“Each year that Wisdom returns, we learn more about how long seabirds can live and raise chicks,” Flint said. 

“Her return not only inspires bird lovers everywhere, but helps us better understand how we can protect these graceful seabirds and the habitat they need to survive into the future.”


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Published on Mar 05, 2021