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Albatross: World's Oldest Known Bird Welcomes 40th Chick

Feb 11, 2016 11:00 AM EST
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A Laysan albatross named Wisdom, the world's oldest banded bird, has hatched what could be her 40th chick. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) reported that the bird, who is at least 65 years old, and her mate welcomed Kukini, Hawaiian for "messenger," into the world on Feb. 1.

"Wisdom is an iconic symbol of inspiration and hope," Robert Peyton, Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge manager, said in a statement.  "From a scientific perspective, albatrosses are a critical indicator species for the world's oceans that sustain millions of human beings as well."

Wisdom returns to her nest at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific Ocean every year.  Her mate Goo had been on the nest since Jan. 20 when he took over incubation duties while Wisdom headed out to sea to collect food.

Wisdom was first banded by ornithologist Chandler Robbins in 1956 as part of a project with the U.S. Geological Survey. She has "nested consecutively" at the refuge since then, according to FWS.

Generally, albatrosses live from 40 to 60 years and can breed annually with their monogamous, lifelong partners, which are only replaced after death or disappearance. At 65, Wisdom has survived several mates.

Based on six decades of observation, researchers believe that she has raised as many as 40 chicks -- at least eight of them since 2006 -- and logged over three million miles of ocean flight time throughout her life.

However, Wisdom and Goo are not the only parents at the refuge welcoming a new addition to their family. Researchers have found nearly 500,000 active nests.  

 "In the case of Wisdom, she is breaking longevity records of previously banded birds by at least a decade," Peyton added. "With over a million albatross on Midway Atoll alone, this shows just how much is left to learn about the natural world around us."   

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