World’s Oldest Albatross Returns to Midway Atoll, Lays Egg

December 21, 2017, 1:03 PM HST · Updated December 21, 1:05 PM
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Wisdom returned to Midway Atoll Refuge and Memorial on December 3, 2016. She is currently incubating an egg! At least 66 years old, Wisdom is the world’s oldest known, banded breeding bird in the wild.
Photo credit: Kristina McOmber/Kupu Conservation Leadership Program & USFWS

At 67-years-old the world’s oldest known breeding bird, an albatross named Wisdom, has laid an egg on Midway Atoll.

Wisdom flies thousands of miles each year to return to Midway Atoll in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, along with millions of other albatross, to nest and raise their young.

US Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge staff spotted Wisdom and her mate, Akeakamai, near their nest in late November, and on December 13 staff confirmed that Akeakamai was on the nest incubating an egg.

Staff members say Wisdom and her mate return to the same nest site on Midway Atoll each year. Since 2006, Wisdom has successfully raised and fledged at least nine chicks and traveled millions of miles in her lifetime.

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“An albatross egg is important to the overall albatross population,” said Bob Peyton, US Fish and Wildlife Service Project Leader for Midway Atoll Refuge and Memorial. “If you consider that albatross don’t always lay an egg each year and when they do they only raise one chick at a time – each egg is tremendously important in maintaining the survival of a colony.”

Midway Atoll is home to over three million seabirds, including the largest colony of albatross in the world. Over 70% of the world’s Laysan albatross population and 29 species of birds rely on the Refuge as a safe place to breed and rear their chicks.

Albatross face a myriad of threats – from involving longline commercial fishing and marine debris to invasive species and shrinking habitat. Throughout the vast expanses of ocean, remote atolls and islands like those found in the Monument are critical refuges for seabirds, like Wisdom.


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