World’s Oldest Known Wild Bird Hatches Another Chick… At Age 70!

Turns out age and Wisdom really DO go hand in hand.

albatross with chick
Photo: dsischo / Getty

A mōlī (Laysan albatross) named Wisdom recently hatched another chick on the remote Pacific island where she lives. And while that may seem like a pedestrian feat at first glance, Wisdom is no ordinary bird. At an estimated age of 70 years old, National Geographic says that Wisdom is thought to be the oldest wild bird ever recorded!

In animals like primates and humans, while males can continue to reproduce well into old age—10th U.S. President John Tyler (who was born in 1790) has a living grandson—females have a finite period of fertility. But in the case of other species like birds, that biological clock can tick at a much different pace. For Wisdom the albatross, that means she has the time to hatch at least 30 chicks over her lifetime, despite her species of bird being particularly slow breeders.

Sean Dooley, national public affairs manager for BirdLife Australia, told The Guardian that because of Wisdom's ability to only nest every two years, "the international bird community looks forward to see if she's been able to come back and nest [again]...The odds are stacked against them so much, whenever it happens it's always a cause for celebration." And here at Daily Paws, we're always down for a party… especially when there's photos of baby animals involved.

While birds are well-known for their long lives as pets in captivity (cockatoos are regularly recorded living to 80 years and beyond!) birds in the wild face many more hardships. These challenges are not only in terms of finding food and migrating to mate, but in having to deal with harsher environmental factors, changing climates, and the constant threat posed by armed humans. But in spite of all that, Wisdom continues to persevere, outliving several mating partners and even biologist Chandler Robbins, who first recorded and tagged Wisdom back in 1956.

"Each year that Wisdom returns, we learn more about how long seabirds can live and raise chicks," said USFWS biologist Beth Flint. "Her return not only inspires bird lovers everywhere, but helps us better understand how we can protect these graceful seabirds and the habitat they need to survive into the future."

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