Oldest Wild Bird Ever Recorded Lays Another Egg

--Dave Maccar

How many moms can boast of raising 30 offspring by their 60s and still have one on the way? Well, this appropriately named Laysan albatross, Wisdom, can. She's the oldest known wild bird recorded since North American bird banding began 90 years ago.

From this story on Discovery News:
_John Klavitter of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service identified Wisdom with a new chick during a survey of the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge where he is deputy manager. This is Wisdom's fourth year in a row of nesting, demonstrating her superior parenting skills. Many albatross take a year off in between their parenting duties. Wisdom's last vacation from motherhood was in 2007.
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_Albatross mate for life and brood only one egg a year, spending another year at least raising the chick until it is fully fledged. For 3 to 5 years the young albatross will then excursion out to sea feeding on fish and squid, never touching land, and even taking naps in mid-flight. When they return to their breeding grounds the mating ritual can take several years, which is why Wisdom is expected to be in her mid-sixties and now a mother of what's likely a whole flock: Biologist Chandler Robbins of the U.S. Geological Survey first found Wisdom incubating an egg in 1956. Wisdom's partner has remained a mystery.

"She looks great," said Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the North American Bird Banding Program in a USGS news release.

"And she is now the oldest wild bird documented in the 90-year history of our USGS-FWS and Canadian bird banding program," Peterjohn said. "To know that she can still successfully raise young at age 60-plus, that is beyond words."

Maybe it's her diet of fish that keeps Wisdom looking good, or maybe it's the exercise she gets. Albatross fly an average of 50,000 miles a year as they travel from breeding grounds near Hawaii to fishing grounds off the western coast of North American._