How Old is the Oldest Known Wild Bird in the World?
Wisdom, the Midway Albatross, is the oldest known wild bird in the world. At over 69 years old, here's the most amazing thing: she's about to hatch a new chick!
Banded in 1956
On Dec. 10, 1956, ornithologist (bird scientist) Chandler Robbins banded 99 Laysan albatrosses in the ‘downtown’ area of Sand Island, Midway. 50 years later, Robbins returned to Midway and caught one of these birds again. They assumed she was at least five years old when banded since she was nesting and these birds have to be at least five years old to breed. That makes her 69+ years old.
Laysan albatrosses are magnificent seabirds with a wingspan of about seven feet. Standing knee high, they weigh about eight pounds. Their wings can lock the "elbow" so they can soar high on the winds for days at a time.
They remain at sea for about half the year before returning to nest on Midway Island in late November or early December. There, they lay eggs and tend their chicks until the chicks fly in May to July.
Laid an Egg
This year, scientist sighted Wisdom on November 29, 2020, and confirmed that she'd laid an egg. How do they know it's her? She has a special leg band, a bright red one, with the letters ZZZ on it. They can spot her at a glance.