A Mom for the 40th Time
The world’s oldest known wild bird the Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis), named Wisdom, is at least 65 years old.
Wildlife officials at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in Hawaii saw her lay an egg on Nov. 28, 2015, (her 40th) and incubate it for several weeks.
The gray chick cracked out of its shell on Feb. 1. But Wisdom wasn’t there when the baby chick hatched: She had headed out to sea on Jan. 20, leaving her mate on nest duty.
Wildlife officials named the chick Kukini, which means “messenger” in Hawaiian.
When researchers first tagged Wisdom in 1956, she was already a breeding adult. The iconic bird has raised at least eight chicks since 2006, and even survived the 2011 tsunami in Japan.
“She is breaking longevity records of previously banded birds by at least a decade,” Peyton said. “With over a million albatross on Midway Atoll alone, this shows just how much is left to learn about the natural world around us.”
Since her banding on Midway Atoll, Wisdom has likely flown more than 3 million miles (4.8 million kilometers) around the Pacific.
Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center’s National Bird Banding Laboratory said “What is also miraculous is that biologist Chandler Robbins, who banded her as a breeding adult in 1956 on Midway Atoll, sighted her 46 years later near the same nesting location.”
These days, Robbins is 97, and still occasionally comes to work to check on the birds. However, Wisdom and Kukini aren’t the only birds he follows.
There are about 470,000 albatross nests on the entire atoll, and each nest represents two adults, bringing the total breeding population to 940,000. These birds arrive at Midway in late November to lay eggs, search for a mate, rest or practice their mating dance skills, wildlife experts said.
Original article on Live Science.
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