America's oldest wild bird is a new mom
Wisdom, a Laysan albatross at least 60 years old, rears her latest chick on Midway Atoll last month.
March 9th, 2011
07:17 AM ET

America's oldest wild bird is a new mom

She's at least 60 years old, flies some 50,000 miles a year, has had almost three dozen kids - and now she's got another one.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that Wisdom, a Laysan albatross whom they describe as the Northern Hemisphere's oldest wild bird, is rearing another chick on Midway Atoll in the Northern Pacific.

“To know that she can still successfully raise young at age 60-plus, that is beyond words," Bruce Peterjohn, the chief of the North American Bird Banding Program, said in a press release.

Biologist John Klavitter, deputy manager of the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, spotted and photographed Wisdom on the atoll in February, according to a report from the U.S. Geological Survey.

The bird was first identified and banded by a USGS researcher in 1956 when she was incubating an egg, according to the USGS. As the Laysan albatross can't breed before age 5 - and spends much of its life before that at sea - scientists estimate Wisdom is at least 60 years old. She may be even older, though, as most Laysan albatrosses don't breed until age 8 or 9 after an extended courtship, according to the USGS.

The Laysan albatross mates for life. No word on whether a 60-year-old Mr. Wisdom is somewhere on Midway or whether Wisdom is charting new skies in that area too.

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Filed under: Animals • Nature • Science • U.S.
soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. Ken

    What I like is the band on the leg. One of the first ones placed, it has number 0007 on it. I guess you could say Wisdom is a Bond girl. Which might explain the longevity.

    March 9, 2011 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Steven Parish

      Wisdom is totally a Band Girl kinda name.

      March 9, 2011 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Bet she's a cougar.

      March 9, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Buelah Bell

      did anyone else notice that their math was off? If it was tagged at birth in 1956 then it would only be 55!! from 1956 to 2000 is 44 years + 11 of this century = 55...... duh

      March 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      She was incubating an egg in 1956.... The article says they don't "mate" before 5 years old. That is why the 60+... did you read it??

      March 9, 2011 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Saxxon

      Umm, Buelah...It says in the article that they tagged the bird in 1956 while it was incubating an egg and that these birds connect reproduce until 5 years old. Sooo, take the 5 years old and add it to your 55 years and, voila! 60 years.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • SarahLV

      Actually, Beulah, it says she was tagged when she was incubating an egg, and that this species of albatross can't breed before age 5. That would make her at least 60 years old, possibly older.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scififishey

      @Buelah Bell
      If you would have read the article a little better you would see that her kind of bird CAN NOT breed until the age of 5. Here:
      "The bird was first identified and banded by a USGS researcher in 1956 when she was incubating an egg, according to the USGS. As the Laysan albatross can't breed before age 5 – and spends much of its life before that at sea – scientists estimate Wisdom is at least 60 years old. She may be even older, though, as most Laysan albatrosses don't breed until age 8 or 9 after an extended courtship, according to the USGS."

      March 9, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpiderMan

      did anyone else notice...beulah can't read??

      it doesn't say it was tagged at birth....it says it was tagged while incubating an egg.....that statement alone tells any reader that the bird was allive WELL BEFORE it was found and tagged.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • LabGirl

      Beulah, the math is not off, just your reading comprehension... 55 years ago a nesting gull was banded. But since the bird had to be at least 5 years old at that time to have produced an egg, that makes the bird at least 60 years old. The math adds up, you just didn't add all the numbers!

      March 9, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Lol, look at all you people slamming Bella. Everyone's an expert nowadays, fools.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • AceRyder

      Scott, you don't have to be an expert to slam Bella when the article is very clear and she is clearly wrong.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • puprplepuppy

      @bulabell Did you nor read that she was banded while she was rearing a chick, and that they are not ready to breed until they are at least 5 years old

      March 9, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Hope those USGS folks don't make her mad, she'd be a really smart Angry Bird at that age! I was expecting snide comments about wasting money studying birds. The upcoming end of the world must have your minds focused on other things 😉

      March 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Did anyone notice how many morons had to correct him?

      March 9, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Simon

      Robert,

      Did you notice how many morons had to correct her.

      There, I fixed it for you moron.

      March 9, 2011 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Wisdom the Albatross

      Yes, Ken, I've been ribbed many a times about my triple O seven name band. But all my friends here in the colony refer to me as Wisdom. Follow me on Twitter (WisdomAlbatross)for all the latest gossip here on Midway Atoll and from around the world. Lately I've been pecking on Charlie Sheen. I'm waiting for that crazy bird to peck back.

      March 11, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Wisdom the Albatross

      Buelah, if you check out my Twitter account (WisdomAlbatross) you would see the exact day I have born in my bio. I have a copy of my Hawaiian birth certificate if you desire further proof.

      March 11, 2011 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
  2. Apocalypse

    Another sign of End of Days.

    March 9, 2011 at 7:58 am | Report abuse |
    • yan

      matthew 24:36

      "However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows."

      You guys continually amaze me with your utter arrogance. May 22 is going to be hilarious.

      March 9, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
    • colleen

      Yan, while I tend to agree with you as far as the stupidity of the "End of Days" conspiracy theorists, I think in this case "Apocalypse" was joking and poking fun at those idiots as well.

      March 9, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • SpiderMan

      HUGE LOLs @ yan who tells others about their ignorance......all the while quoting scriptures from some man made book of mind-f$%k.

      ummmm.....you do know yan, when you call others ignorant and then quote some cultist, mind-funking propaganda that only a brain-dead, can't think for oneself gullible person would follow.....well, that makes you look and sound like a complete iTard of an imbecile lemming.

      so again....HUGE LOLs @ yan!!!

      March 9, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Burbank

      Go get yourself some psychiatric help and stop spewing your stupid nonsense all over these blogs! You and Charie Sheen must have hatched from the same egg!

      March 9, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lennie W

    Why was "How to Kill Chipmunks eHow" even on your page?? That's DUMB11111

    March 9, 2011 at 7:59 am | Report abuse |
  4. Lennie W

    Don't forget March 21st!!! ha ha ha ha ha

    March 9, 2011 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Apocalypse

      Correction, it's MAY...and all of you will make my day.

      March 9, 2011 at 8:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Klaatu

      I hope that all the religious nut jobs believe the May 21st mumbo-jumbo. And when the day comes to pass they all drink the kool-aid so the rest of us are finally free of their religious insanity!

      March 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Angie M.

      Sorry to disappoint Apocalyp2 and Apocalypse, but you guys are so stuck on a man made book that you will believe anything that is written is that stupid thing. If the world was going to end anytime soon, we would have signs of it now. You wouldn't have any snow, rain, or grass. It would be hot as hell outside. And the thing with the calendar ending, that you think is the end of the world is crap. The reason why the calendar is ending is because way back in 700 B.C., the Romans began to study the moon and predict when it was going to be a full moon or half a moon or whatever, but they got so far into the calendar and finally thought that they had done enough, so they ended their predictions and they hoped that someone else would take it over. It does not mean that the world is going to end, it just means that the Romans that were studying the moon were done and felt fulfilled. So, keep reading your crap from the bible and believing your ignorance.

      March 9, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rachelle

      I was married once on May 21st. It didn't last.

      March 9, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • martin

      when did this turn from a discussion about the old bird to religion? never ceases to amaze me how any wacko with the "word of God" in their hands can turn any news story into a religious argument. "Well Corinthians 8:11 says this" or Revelations 6:6 says this. I really don't care. stop pushing your religious hoo-ha in my face. We all will be judged by the higher powers regardless of how highly you think yourself, or how "pure" you think your soul is.

      March 9, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lennie W

    Don't forget what thet say will happen on March 21st.ha ha ha ha ha

    March 9, 2011 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Apocalyp2

      It's May 21st, NOT March...Quit making fun of your ignorance.

      March 9, 2011 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
    • scroo yoo

      Yeah,you should be making fun of their ignorance

      I read all those apocalypse whackjobs are giving everything they own away.I know one,but he doesnt own anything

      March 9, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
  6. Cesar

    Typical female, needs an "extended courtship" before jumping into the nest. I hear some human females sell their eggs for as much as $50,000. That's much more than a man's sp*rm selling price.

    March 9, 2011 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
    • justmy2

      Concerning the bird, they mate for life, which may explain the extended courtship. Concerning human females, the extended courtship ritual may be a way of finding the right guy. That way one is sure they got a winner – not the run of the mill loser out for the proverbial looking to "milk the cow for free, " in other words someone who wants only the fun part, who has no intention of committing. The good news is, in today's society, there's plenty of them around more than happy to give it away on the first encounter. They are the same ones who gripe about not being able to find a decent, long term relationship.

      March 9, 2011 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
    • JG

      A man can donate sperm just by doing what he's doing anyway. A woman donating eggs has to inject hormones repeatedly to stimulate the production of multiple eggs and then she has to undergo a surgical procedure to remove the eggs, none of which is risk-free. How much would you want to be paid for that, Cesar?

      March 9, 2011 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • scroo yoo

      If they werent all cows maybe Id stick around for more milk

      March 9, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
    • mlc in CA

      Bet you don't get much female comfort, without paying, that is.

      March 9, 2011 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
  7. justmy2

    It's a good thing this 60 year old bird and her latest offspring are on an atoll, and not on the mainland. I'm sure she would targeted for immediate death by some twisted freak if she was easily located.

    March 9, 2011 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
  8. Cesar

    Scientists say the world will end in 13 billion years, not May or March. So if I get to live for 12 billion years, I'll be happy.

    March 9, 2011 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  9. banasy

    *Facepalm*

    What's going to happen May 21st? The egg is going to hatch?

    Harold Camping was wrong before...remember 1994? What's going to happen May 21st? May 21st. What's going to happen after that? May 22nd.

    March 9, 2011 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Sayonara

      No eggs will be hatched, only inequities will be riped and there'll be no more 22nd for the world to see.

      March 9, 2011 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Jessica

      What's going to happen is my birthday!!!

      March 9, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • KLDGBB

      How has this nice story about the bird turned into a "discussion" on the end of the world?

      March 9, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      Some say the world will end in fire,
      Some say in ice.
      From what I've tasted of desire
      I hold with those who favor fire.
      But if it had to perish twice,
      I think I know enough of hate
      To say that for destruction ice
      Is also great
      And would suffice.

      March 9, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Codifex Maximus

      Robert Frost always knew how to string the words together nice.

      March 10, 2011 at 2:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. Al

    I think this is very cool. This albatross must be one lucky bird to survive this long. Good luck to her and her new baby 🙂 Gotta love nature!

    March 9, 2011 at 8:19 am | Report abuse |
    • animallover

      i agree

      March 9, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Melisa

      FINALLY, a comment that's related to the post!!! I agree. I think this is a very cool story.

      March 9, 2011 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Frankly Speaking..

      I agree, cute lil birdie..

      April 4, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ma & pa

    @ Cesar comment 8 And sm wmn eggs stolen an ma worries forever is childs free fed safe happy sheltered

    March 9, 2011 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
  12. Alan Anderson

    'In a desparate attempt to fill 24-hours of programming, CNN reports....'

    March 9, 2011 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Wellington

      BOOO! I thought it was a nice story. How many stories of death do I have to put up with to get one nice bird story? Lighten up.

      March 9, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Alan Anderson

      ha ha relax. I'm sorry to have detracted from your beloved bird stories.

      March 9, 2011 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  13. Sybaris

    As The Chairman used to say, "How's your bird?"

    March 9, 2011 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Chairman Mao

      How's your bird?

      March 9, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kelee

    A true miracle! How beautiful. What an inspiration today.

    March 9, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Truly

      Miracles happen everyday, but mostly they'll come in little packages. All you need to do is to appreciate them.

      March 9, 2011 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  15. Steve H.

    Alan Anderson is a very sad man. See the good dude.

    March 9, 2011 at 8:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Alan Anderson

      Just calling a spade a spade, dude.

      March 9, 2011 at 9:21 am | Report abuse |
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