HONOLULU, Hawaii — The US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) proudly announced yesterday that Wisdom, a 67 year-old Laysan albatross, has successfully hatched another chick. Wisdom is the oldest wild breeding bird of which we are aware.
Wisdom makes her nest upon Midway Atoll—site of a decisive naval battle betwen the US and Japan during World War II. Although the remote island is home to a memorial for the battle and the lives it cost, it also serves as a wildlife refuge, and a popular breeding ground for over three million seabirds.
First banded in 1956, Wisdom has been returning to Midway Atoll every year since. The Laysan albatross spends the vast majority of its life at sea—but like many species of seabird, it returns to the same nesting site to breed annually.
The USFWS thinks that Wisdom has successfully raised from 30-36 new albatross chicks in her life. As with each of those previous eggs, Wisdom and her mate, Akeakamai, took turns for two months—alternating between incubating the egg and flying off to look for food at sea. Now that the chick has hatched, it will be five months before the little albatross will leave the nest.
Midway Atoll boasts the largest albatross colony in the world, and is home to at least three different species of albatross alone. Every year they begin to arrive in late October. By the end of November, the island is covered in breeding pairs of the birds.
The USFWS works to maintain the habitats of seabirds on Midway Atoll. Some of these seabird species are endangered or threatened—and the Midway Atoll is home to 73% of all Laysan albatrosses.