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Laysan Albatross Is The Oldest Living Wild Bird #birding #birds

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.

9 comments to Laysan Albatross Is The Oldest Living Wild Bird #birding #birds

  • Cool story—note that the top 10 list is just for North American Bird Banding Lab records, so it doesn’t count birds that “we” don’t band. I was reading about Snow Petrels recently—as of 2007 the first one ever banded (in Antarctica, by the French) was still alive and at least 46 years old. Not bad for a ~300 gram bird.

  • This is really interesting!

  • sfmarty

    There is an Osprey in Scotland who is at least 20 and has laid atleast 50 eggs. Raised most of the chicks. All under a cam’s eye. She is due back at her next any day now.

  • What an amazing bird! I hope her chicks inherit her resilience.

  • Two things this reminds me of.
    1. Respect your elders.
    (I first encountered the idea of non-human beings as elders when I saw a sign that said that hung on the redwood Julia Butterfly Hill was sitting in)

    2. A Fish Diet is good for you. It seems the many writers on such a subject may be correct. Makes me want to review the whole aquatic ape theory, and eat more fish.

    Great post. Will be sharing this one.

  • This may have been one of the thousands of individuals that I counted at Midway Atoll in December 2010. Hard to say. I worked as a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service volunteer, counting all of the Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses that were sitting on eggs. Quite an experience. If the world could see what I saw, no one would ever, ever purchase another disposable cigarette lighter. Never. Plastic in every nest. Save our seabirds!

  • This is a truly amazing record! I hope Midway Atoll, Wisdom, and all her peers were not affected by the tsunami, does anyone here know?

  • We just talked about this in Podcast 11. The atoll was hit and many nests were wiped out, but Wisdom’s nest is still in tact.

    @Debi I have some video footage of a scientist studying the plastics in the oceans. If more people could see that, they would change their plastic ways, I started immediately. I can’t change it all right away, but doing what I can where I can. Horrific.

  • I think the loss of seabird nests is one of the sad affects of the tsunami that is not getting much attention at all. Thank you for making it a topic of conversation. I need to check out your podcast…but if anyone has any links to good information on the issue I will be grateful if you can share them here.