62-year-old albatross a new mom
Thu., Feb. 7, 2013
The world’s oldest-known wild bird – a 62-year-old albatross on Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean – is also a new mother.
The bird, a Laysan albatross whom biologists have named Wisdom, hatched a chick this week, her sixth in the past six years.
“If she were human, she would be eligible for Medicare in a couple of years, yet she is still regularly raising young and annually circumnavigating the Pacific Ocean,” said Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the North American bird banding program at the U.S. Geological Survey. “Simply incredible.”
The chick, which scientists describe as healthy, hatched Sunday.
The mother, by now an old pro at the finer points of the birds and the bees, received her first identification band during the Eisenhower administration, in 1956. Back then, USGS scientist Chandler Robbins estimated she was 5 years old.
Since then, she has worn out five ID bands, returning year after year to lay an egg at Midway, a remote island northeast of Hawaii that was the site of a famous 1942 naval battle. Today, it’s a U.S. national wildlife refuge where hundreds of thousands of albatrosses nest every year.
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