World's oldest breeding albatross 'Wisdom' lays egg at age 66

By Daniel Uria   |   Dec. 10, 2016 at 2:39 PM

MIDWAY ATOLL, Hawaii, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- The world's oldest breeding albatross has returned to a wildlife refuge in Hawaii and began incubating a newly laid egg.

Wisdom, the female albatross believed to be at least 66 years old, surprised and delighted staff at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Memorial by laying a new egg despite her advanced age.

"I find it impressive that not only has Wisdom returned for over six decades as the oldest living, breeding bird in the wild, but also that biologists here on Midway have been keeping records that have allowed us to keep track of her over the years," said Charlie Pelizza, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service acting project leader for Midway Atoll Refuge and Memorial.

Staff kept track of Wisdom throughout her six decades of fertility using a red auxiliary band attached to her right leg.

She was first banded in 1956 by biologist Chandler Robbins when she had already begun breeding. Biologists estimate Wisdom is older than 60.

Wisdom has raised at least nine chicks to maturity since 2006 and remains at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge incubating her newest egg and awaiting the return of her mate Akeakamai.

"When I made it to lunch, I knew something was up," Pelizza said of the excitment surrounding Wisdom and her egg. "The staff was abuzz with the news that Wisdom was back and incubating. It's amazing what a bit of good news can do to brighten the day."

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