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World's oldest bird hatches chick at age 62


Wisdom tending to a chick in March, 2011 (courtesy: USFWS)
Wisdom tending to a chick in March, 2011 (courtesy: USFWS)

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer

February 18, 2013 — A 62 year-old Laysan albatross stumped researchers when when she hatched a chick in late January.

Nineteen of the twenty-one species of albatross are threatened by extinction (courtesy: Mark Jobling)
Nineteen of the twenty-one species of albatross are threatened by extinction (courtesy: Mark Jobling)

She may be the world's oldest-known bird, but Wisdom the albatross has no plans of slowing down.

In late January, the 62 year-old hatched a healthy chick for the sixth year in a row.

That's no small feat for an albatross of any age. It takes nearly a year for the species to incubate and raise a chick, and many adults will take a "year off" from parenting once in a while -- but not Wisdom.

Experts believe she's raised as many as 35 chicks in her lifetime, 1 chick for every 1.77 years she's lived.

"Everyone continues to be inspired by Wisdom as a symbol of hope for her species," said Doug Staller, the Fish and Wildlife Service superintendent for the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, where Wisdom lives.

Wisdom was first banded and registered in 1956 by USGS survey scientist Chandler Robbins. 

Robbins estimated she was five years old, but she may have been older because she was incubating an egg at the time, something her species usually starts doing at 8 years of age.

Despite her hectic schedule, Wisdom has found time to travel -- logging nearly 5 million kilometres.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 19 of the 21 species of albatross are threatened by extinction.

Invasive species like wild cats and rats have played a role in the decline, along with ingesting plastics found in the ocean.

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