Wisdom, a Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis) that is currently at least 65 years old, became a mother for the 40th time and, despite its age, it shows no signs of slowing down, experts say.
The birds laid the egg on Nov. 28, 2015, which was then incubated for several weeks, according to wildlife officials at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in Hawaii.
On February 1, a grey chick hatched, but Wisdom was not there when the baby chick cracked out of its shell. Wisdom flew off to sea on January 20 and returned on February 7. In the meantime, the male was left to look out for the egg. Official said that after Wisdom returned, the male was able to also go out to sea in search of food.
The chick was named Kūkini – meaning “messenger” in Hawaiian – by wildlife officials. Robert Peyton, manager of the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, said that Wisdom is a symbol for hope and inspiration.
When Wisdom was first identified in 1956, the albatross was already a breeding adult, according to researchers. Ever since 2006, the bird has raised about eight chicks. Peyton said that Wisdom is breaking longevity records of other birds by at least a decade.
The bird has probably flown more than three million miles (almost five million km) around the Pacific, since her arrival on Midway Atoll (also known as Midway Island), an atoll in the North Pacific Ocean.
Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center’s National Bird Banding Laboratory, said that the distance is equivalent to approximately six trips from the Earth to the Moon and back.
Chandler Robbins (now 97), an important figure in modern field ornithology, was the one who banded Wisdom as a breeding adult in 1956 on Midway Atoll. Mr. Robbins spotted the bird 46 years later near the same nesting location, Peterjohn said.
On Midway Atoll there are about 470,000 albatross nests. For each nest, there are two adults, which means that the total breeding albatross population on the atoll is somewhere around 940,000 (perhaps even up to one million birds). In late November, the birds come to Midway Atoll in search of a mate, lay eggs, practice their mating dance skills, or rest, according to wildlife experts.
Image Source: discover magazine