And she’s still raising chicks!
That’s right. According to bird banding records, a Laysan albatross on the Midway Atoll is now officially the oldest living (and breeding birds) in the wild! She’s at least 60, but most likely older than that, since she was already breeding when she was initially banded. According to the press release from USGS:
“A Laysan albatross named Wisdom, is at least 60 years old and was spotted in February 2011 raising a chick at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific Islands. The bird has sported and worn out 5 bird bands since she was first banded by U.S. Geological Survey scientist Chandler Robbins in 1956 as she incubated an egg. Robbins estimated Wisdom to be at least 5 years old then since this is the earliest age at which these birds breed, though they more typically breed at 8 or 9 after an involved courtship lasting several years. This means, of course, that Wisdom is more likely to be in her early sixties.”
When you think about all the hazards that face albatross from ingesting plastic and lead to the sheer amount of energy and distance they travel when not breeding, this is amazing. Here’s the current list of the top ten longevity records according to bird banding studies. Interesting to note the the oldest birds tend to be fish eaters.