The world’s oldest-known wild bird — a 62-year-old albatross on Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean — is also a new mother. The bird, a Laysan albatross whom biologists have named Wisdom, hatched a chick this week, her sixth in the past six years….
The chick, which scientists describe as healthy, hatched Sunday.
The mother, by now an old pro at the finer points of the birds and the bees, received her first identification band during the Eisenhower administration, in 1956. Back then, USGS scientist Chandler Robbins estimated she was 5 years old. Since then, she has worn out five ID bands, returning year after year to lay an egg at Midway, a remote island northwest of Hawaii that was the site of a famous 1942 naval battle. Today, it’s a U.S. national wildlife refuge where hundreds of thousands of albatrosses nest every year.
Albatrosses lay only one egg a year. Legendary long-distance marvels of the animal kingdom, they fly thousands of miles across the ocean, gliding on wind currents with their large wings. They feed on fish, squid and other marine life. Researchers estimate that if Wisdom flew typical routes, she quite probably has traveled 50,000 miles a year as an adult. That’s at least 2 million to 3 million miles since she was first banded, the equivalent of four to six trips from Earth to the moon and back.
Most Laysan albatrosses live between 12 and 40 years, although some have been documented surviving into their 50s. About 70 percent of the bird’s world population nests on Midway. Researchers estimate that Wisdom has hatched up to 35 chicks in the past half-century.
(via At age 62, albatross hatches a chick - San Jose Mercury News)