‘Oldest bird in US’ raises chick

In June 2006 President George W. Bush designated Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument thanks to advocacy by MCBI. We are now advising NOAA and USFWS on the development of monument management plans.

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, also referred to as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, is home to millions of seabirds, an incredible diversity of coral reef species, and the highly endangered Hawaiian monk seal. Approximately 90% of Hawaii’s green sea turtles nest in the monument, as do about 99% of the world’s population of Laysan albatross, and 98% of the black‐footed albatross. These islands are also important to Native Hawaiians for culture, history, and religion.

Now it appears that one of the island’s elderly residents has benefitted from the area’s continued protection.

BBC Earth News

The bird has probably raised 30-35 chicks during her life (Image courtesy BBC News)

The oldest known bird in the US, a Laysan albatross named Wisdom, has been spotted with a chick.

This image of the bird with its newly-hatched chick was taken by US Geological Survey (USGS) scientists at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the North Pacific.

The USGS put an identity ring on Wisdom in 1956, as she was incubating an egg.

Laysan albatrosses typically breed at eight or nine years of age, so the bird is likely to be in its early 60s.

Bruce Peterjohn, from the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland, said that the bird “looked great”.

“To know that she can still successfully raise young at age 60-plus, that is beyond words,” he said.

“While the process of banding (ringing) a bird has not changed greatly during the past century, the information provided by birds marked with a simple numbered metal band has transformed our knowledge of birds.”

Scientists estimate that Wisdom has probably raised 30-35 chicks during her breeding life.

These birds lay only one egg per year, and spend most of the year incubating and raising their chicks.

Adult albatrosses also mate for life, with both parents raising the young, but researchers do not know if Wisdom has had the same partner during her 60 years of raising young.

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