World’s Oldest Wild Bird to Become a Mother for the 37th Time

Wisdom has lived a long, fruitful life.

old bird
A pair of Laysan Albatross popularly know as "Gooney Birds", on Midway Atoll. (Larry Armstrong/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LA Times via Getty Images

Wisdom, a 68-year-old Laysan albatross, has returned to her home at the Midway Atoll national wildlife refuge for another winter — and another round of motherhood.

The bird, believed to be the oldest in the wild, recently laid the 37th egg of her lifetime, biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told The Guardian. All of Wisdom’s 36 feathered offspring have been with her longtime partner, a fellow albatross known as Akeakamai.

Wisdom was first banded in 1956 by biologist Chandler Robbins, who tracked and monitored her habits for decades until the next generation of scientists took over before Robbins’ death in 2017 at 98. Researchers know that the elegant bird returns nearly every year to Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, accompanied by about one million of her fellow species who also set up nests for potential chicks.

Akeakamai meets her there every year.

“There is preening and a dance,” USFWS wildlife biologist Beth Flint said of the birds’ mating ritual. “They’re very tactile animals. They sit closely and preen each other and snuggle. We can’t know what they’re feeling, but they exhibit the kind of behaviors that reinforce a bond and a connection.”

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