Wisdom is a Laysan albatross and—at the grand age of 64—the world’s oldest living tracked bird. She was recently spotted at the Midway Atoll national wildlife refuge with a mate, following a year away.
First tagged in 1956, when she was likely five-years-old, Wisdom has raised an estimated 36 chicks in the six long decades since then. What’s more, it seems her latest visit to the refuge—located 1500 miles north-west of Hawaii and the world’s largest nesting albatross colony—will be to raise chick number 37.
Refuge staff said they were delighted to see her return, Bret Wolfe, deputy manager saying: ‘It is very humbling to think that she has been visiting Midway for at least 64 years.’
‘Navy sailors and their families likely walked by her not knowing she could possibly be rearing a chick over 50 years later.’
Manager Dan Clark added that Wisdom had become a ‘symbol of hope and inspiration’ in the face of a precipitous decline in seabirds. An estimated 70% of the creatures have disappeared worldwide since the 1950s.
Laysan albatrosses typically have a wingspan of up to 7ft (2m) across and spend much of their lives foraging for food such as squid, hundreds of miles out to sea. Given her age, it’s thought Wisdom must have around 6m ocean miles of flight under her wings.
Although Wisdom is the oldest tracked bird in the wild, it’s known New Zealand’s kakapo—or owl parrot—can live to become octogenarians. Other species of parrot kept in captivity also live to surpass the 80-year milestone.