America's oldest bird is still having babies

Illustration for article titled America's oldest bird is still having babies

A Laysan albatross named Wisdom was first tagged for monitoring and identification back in 1956, and 55 years later she's the oldest known wild bird in the United States. Even more amazingly, she's still laying eggs and raising young.


When Wisdom was first banded all those years ago, she already was laying an egg. She was estimated to be at least five back then, although she might have been even older - these birds don't generally start reproducing until about 8 or 9, and there's no way to be sure that particular egg was Wisdom's first. As such, we're sure that this bird must be at least sixty, but she might be even older.

However old she is, this is one for the record books. The Laysan albatross lifespan is thought to top out at about forty years, and she blasted past that back around 1991. Wisdom has raised at least 30 to 35 chicks over her long life, although the number might be even higher than that because older mothers are more experienced and thus are able to manage more incubations periods. Indeed, if anything Wisdom is getting busier in her old age, as she previously nested in 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010. It takes a full year to both incubate the egg and raise the chick to the point of self-reliance.

The monitoring technique known as bird banding has given us amazing wealths of information. Beyond revealing longevity records like Wisdom's, it's helped us better understand migratory patterns and given us a chance to manage endangered bird populations more effectively.

Via LiveScience.



30 to 35 chicks, each one of them very likely highly survivable just like their mom...Darwin in action. She's breeding a race of super Albatrosses.

Had she been around in the 1700's the Ancient Mariner wouldn't have had a chance (and his whole crew would have survived).