Wisdom the Albatross: The World’s Oldest Living Banded Bird Returns to Midway Atoll

by Owen James Burke

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Wisdom (left) preening with her mate on November 22nd, just three days after he’d arrived on Midway Atoll to meet her at their nesting site. Photo: B. Wolfe/USFWS)

Wisdom, a Laysan albatross, was first banded in 1956 on Midway Atoll at the estimated age of 5. Each year, she takes off to sea, and it’s anyone’s guess whether or not she’ll return. Last month, she came back yet again.

Laysan albatrosses mate for life, and Wisdom and her partner have produced, incubated and nursed some 30-35 chicks. Each time it lays a fertilized egg, a Laysan albatross is signing on for 365 days of intensive care, incubating and nursing of the young. Okay, it may not be the 18 years we humans are legally obliged to care for our young, but how does raising 30-35 kids sound to you?

Welcome back for another year, Wisdom.

Read more about Wisdom at United States Fish and Wildlife Service — OB

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