SCIENCE

World's Oldest Wild Bird Hatches Yet Another Chick

Scientists call her "an iconic symbol of inspiration and hope."

HONOLULU -- The world's oldest known wild bird just gave birth, astonishing scientists yet again.

Wisdom, a Laysan Albatross, is at least 65 years old, making her the oldest known bird in the wild, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The fluffy chick emerged from its shell on Feb. 1 on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, which is part of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The remote atoll lies about 1,300 miles northwest of Honolulu.

In the video below, Wisdom feeds her newborn chick, named Kūkini, the Hawaiian word for "messenger." 

Wisdom Feeds Kūkini

Celebrating the United Nations International Day of Women and Girls in Science! This post of Wisdom feeding Kūkini is in honor of those women who are working on Midway Atoll to assure Wisdom, along with millions of other seabirds, are protected and safe by keeping weeds at bay that consume nesting habitat and by constantly monitoring the health of wildlife and habitat. As the United Nations is hosting the first International Day of Women in Science #STEM Kaipo Kiaha captured the work of 9 women (mostly volunteers) that goes on behind the camera guided by Wildlife Biologist Meg Duhr-Schultz. Their work allows us to share Wisdom with you. See Women in Science on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge at: http://bit.ly/WomeninScienceonMidway Join us in helping celebrate February 11 by posting pictures of women and girls in science at #dayofwomeninscienc

Posted by Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument on Thursday, February 11, 2016

This birth is far from Wisdom's first rodeo.

She's hatched as many as 40 chicks in her lifetime, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. She was first banded in 1956, and since then has continued to amaze scientists by beating the odds in an increasingly harsh ocean ecosystem.

As the oceans continue to fill up with plastic debris, seabirds like Wisdom are at great risk for consuming garbage and feeding it to their chicks.

The typical lifespan of a Laysan Albatross is 12-40 years, so scientists consider Wisdom to be a very special bird. Her record-breaking longevity gives them cause to be optimistic for the ocean's health. 

"Wisdom is an iconic symbol of inspiration and hope," Robert Peyton, manager of the Midway refuge, said. "Albatrosses are a critical indicator species for the world’s oceans."

Wisdom's mate and Kūkini share a bonding moment.
Wisdom's mate and Kūkini share a bonding moment.

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