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Wisdom, the oldest known wild bird in the world, has been spotted again aged 71


Wisdom, a Laysan albatross considered the oldest wild bird in the world, has returned to the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday.

The 71-year-old man, who was spotted on Thanksgiving Day, has reappeared at the same North Pacific nesting site for decades, the agency wrote on Facebook. During her life, she raised about thirty chicks. Last year, scientists learned that she had become a grandmother after one of her offspring was observed helping raise her own chick.

Wisdom and one of her chicks in 2018.

Bob Peyton/US Fish and Wildlife Service via AP

However, Wisdom’s longtime companion, Akeakamai ― whose name means “wisdom lover” in the Hawaiian language ― has not been seen at the wildlife refuge this year. The couple’s most recent chick hatched in early 2021, when Wisdom was at least 70 years old.

Wisdom and her companion, Akeakamai, in 2015.
Wisdom and her companion, Akeakamai, in 2015.

Dan Clark/US Fish and Wildlife Service via AP

Scientists can identify Wisdom via an aluminum ID strapped around her ankle. Famed ornithologist Chandler Robbins first banded her in 1956 and gave her a new band in 2002. Robbins died in 2017 at the age of 98, more than six decades after he first encountered Wisdom.

“I like to think that in all her years Wisdom has learned to avoid most of the dangers that threaten seabirds,” Robbins told Living Bird magazine shortly before her death. He noted that when he first encountered Wisdom, she was nesting in an area well protected from tsunamis but close to overhead wires and traffic, which can pose risks to seabirds. When he took her back years later, he said, she had moved to a new nesting site free of such dangers.

Wisdom tends towards an egg in 2016.
Wisdom tends towards an egg in 2016.

Dan Clark/US Fish and Wildlife Service via AP

There are truthful Wisdom folks who don’t believe the same bird can return year after year, The Washington Post reported in 2016. Skeptics believe someone may have changed the identification band to a new one. albatross at some point. But scientists seem convinced she is the real deal, while acknowledging that her case is unusual.

“Albatrosses are extremely long-lived, but what’s unusual about Wisdom is that she’s so much older than other birds,” seabird conservationist Richard Phillips told The New York Times last year. .

After Wisdom, Phillips’ second oldest known wild albatross was 61, he said.

On social media, news of Wisdom’s return this year has been hailed and appreciated for its resilience.



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