Wisdom, the world’s oldest known breeding bird in the wild, continues to amaze the world.
At the approximate age of 67, the seasoned, female Laysan albatross has once again returned to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and laid an egg.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed that Wisdom and her mate, Akeakamai, returned to the atoll at Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in late November. On Dec. 13, USFWS staff spotted Akeakamai on the nest incubating an egg. Wisdom returned last week and is now incubating the egg.
“An albatross egg is important to the overall albatross population” said Bob Peyton, USFWS project leader for Midway Atoll Refuge and Memorial in a statement. “If you consider that albatross don’t always lay an egg each year and when they do they only raise one chick at a time – each egg is tremendously important in maintaining the survival of a colony.”
Laysan albatrosses only lay one egg and raise one chick per year. Both parents take turns incubating the egg, and one cares for it while the other heads out to find food, sometimes for as long as a month.
Wisdom was first banded on Midway Atoll in 1956. She has returned to Midway almost every year since 2002. Since 2006, she has successfully raised and fledged at least nine chicks and logged millions of miles of flight. USFWS officials estimate that she may have delivered 30 to 35 chicks over her lifetime.
She also laid an egg at about the same time a year ago, and the chick hatched in February of last year.
Midway Atoll’s small islands are a predator-free haven for more than three million seabirds, including the largest colony of albatross in the world. The albatross return to the island from October to December every year to nest and raise their young.
More than 70 percent of the world’s Laysan albatross population, listed as near threatened on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, and 29 species of birds, rely on the refuge as a safe place to breed and rear their chicks.