Wisdom is a Laysan albatross, a seabird that nests on islands in the tropical Pacific and can soar for hundreds of miles each day while barely needing to flap her wings. She is considered to be the oldest known wild bird in the world, with an approximate age of 70, and she has just hatched another healthy chick.
Wisdom was first discovered, noted, and bandend by biologist at the Battle of Midway National Memorial in 1956. Each year, she and an enormous flock of albatross return to the Memorial and the neighboring Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Arriving in early October, the world’s largest colony of albatross come home to their nesting site and reunite with their mates.
Typically, albatross mate for life, however scientists believe Wisdom may have had other partners before her current mate, named Akeakamai. “At least 70 years old, we believe Wisdom has had some other mates,” confirmed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services biologist Dr. Beth Flint. “Though albatross mate for life, they may find new partners if necessary — for example if they outlive their first mate.”
The average albatross lives anywhere between 12 and 40 years. With the amount of time Wisdom has been alive, and considering that she has hatched at least 30 to 36 chicks in her lifetime, it is not surprising that she may have had previous partners. However, Akeakamai has been Wisdom’s mate since 2012 and is the father to her newest chick.
“Wisdom laid her egg sometime during the last few days of November,” the USFWS said in a recent statement. “Soon after, Wisdom returned to sea to forage and her mate Akeakamai took over incubation duties.” Albatross not only mate for life, but share parental duties equally. While the chick incubates, both parents take turns keeping the egg warm and, once the chick is hatched, they also share feeding duties.
Wisdom is part of millions of albatross that return to the Refuge and Memorial each year. Scientists are able to use this consistent return to study and collect data on the seabirds, allowing a better understanding of their life cycle and migration patterns. The first albatross was banded on the Midway Atoll in 1936, and since then, biologists have banded more than 275,000 albatross between the Refuge and the Memorial.
With the continued collection and analysis of modern data, combined with historical records from previous observations, biologists are better equipped to create a habitat that meets the seabirds’ needs and provides them with necessary resources. “Each year that Wisdom returns, we learn more about how long seabirds can live and raise chicks,” said Dr. Flint. “Her return not only inspires bird lovers everywhere, but helps us better understand how we can protect these graceful seabirds and the habitat they need to survive into the future.”
Wisdom and her new chick have grabbed the world’s attention, so much so that the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge put together a video in Wisdom’s honor. Check it out below! If you’d like to join the Refuge in their fight to protect our precious birds, consider donating here.
Saturday Night With Wisdom! We interrupt our scheduled posts to pay our respects and admiration to the eldest of albatross, Wisdom, the oldest known banded bird in the wild that is currently caring for her chick on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Seems she has grabbed the attention of NPR, BBC, The Smithsonian, The Guardian, Israeli newspaper HAARETZ, The Hill, USA Today over the past 48 hours and the list goes on. On behalf of the Friends of Midway Atoll Facebook fans, donors and members your photographer, videographer and author extraordinaire has just sent from Midway a 2021 Wisdom video created just for you. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming featuring the lives and times of growing albatross chicks (Part 5) soon! These incredible National Wildlife Refuge moments are only made possible through your donation, membership and from a portion of the proceeds from the sale of your own personal albatross chick at https://friendsofmidway.org/#wisdom #WisdomtheAlbatross #moli #LAAL #migratorybirds #thequeenofhearts #bandingbirdlab #chandlerrobbinsPapahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument Video Credit: Jon Brack/FWS on behalf of Friends of Midway Atoll
Posted by Friends of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, March 6, 2021