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World's Oldest Wild Bird, Wisdom The Albatross, Returns To Island Home

Wisdom has been coming home for around 70 years but once again her mate is not there waiting for her.

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Eleanor Higgs

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Eleanor Higgs

Digital Content Creator

Eleanor is a content creator and social media assistant with an undergraduate degree in zoology and a master’s degree in wildlife documentary production.

Digital Content Creator

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Wisdom and her mate, both big black and white albatrosses with pink beaks. Her mates beak is touching the side of her head in a loving way. The ground is green and grassy with other albatross bodies visible in the background.

Wisdom (left) and her mate Akeakamai together in 2015.

Image Credit: USFWS - Pacific Region / Public Domain via Flickr

Earlier this month we celebrated the birthday of the oldest living land animal in the world and now it’s time to celebrate the return of the world’s oldest living wild bird to land. Wisdom the albatross came back to her nesting site of the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the North Pacific Ocean on December 1.

Wisdom is a female Laysan albatross (Phoebastria immutabilis), also called a mōlī, who is thought to be at least 70 years old. These albatrosses return to these tiny island atolls every year to breed, with the males typically arriving earlier than the females. Almost the entire population of these birds relies on the islands in the Hawaiian island chain as their breeding grounds, according to All About Birds. However, for the last two years, Wisdom’s mate, a male albatross by the name of Akeakamai, has not been seen at the atoll, adding to fears that he may have passed away. He was last seen at the refuge in 2021. 

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Wisdom was first tagged in the 1950s and bears the letters Z333, helping experts and researchers identify her return every year. Throughout the time she has been monitored, the team have observed her raising 30-36 chicks in her lifetime as these birds typically breed every other year. 

In a social media post, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific (USFWS) announced that she had returned, with supervisory wildlife biologist Jon Plissner saying that he had seen Wisdom participating in mating dances but did not expect her to breed this year.

“She is quite spry for a septuagenarian!” said Plissner in the post.


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natureNaturenatureanimals
  • tag
  • animals,

  • birds,

  • mating,

  • albatross,

  • Hawai'i

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