The Oldest Bird in the Northern Hemisphere Raises a Chick

Thanks again to Ed Steer

Below is a photo of “Wisdom”. She’s a female Laysan albatross—and was first banded by USGS scientist Chandler Robbins in 1956 as she was incubating an egg. This is a picture of her brooding her month-old chick on Midway Island in early March of 2011. Since then, she has raised another chick on Midway Atoll, this time in 2014. These birds must be at least five years old before they’re capable of breeding, but they more typically breed at 8 or 9 after an involved courtship lasting several years.

So, assuming the egg she was sitting on in 1956 was her first one, and that’s no guarantee—and adding eight years to that, you come out with a hatching date for Wisdom somewhere in very early 1948. That means that when she raised her latest chick in 2014 she was 65 years old.

I was born in October of 1948—so it’s a near certainty that Wisdom is older than I am.

The photo credit belongs to John Klavitter.

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