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World’s oldest known living wild bird gives birth at age 62

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

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Wisdom's mate attends to their newborn chick, while the mother was out at sea. (Live Science)

The oldest known living wild bird in the world has given birth to a healthy hatchling. The 62-year-old bird, “Wisdom,” last made headlines in 2011, when the albatross survived the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami.

Wisdom has defied the odds in many aspects: She’s already lived nearly twice as long as the average Laysan albatross. She was given her name after being tagged by a U.S. Geological Survey researcher in 1956. The USGS said in a statement that since being tagged, Wisdom has flown an estimated 2 million to 3 million miles, or “four to six trips from the Earth to the Moon and back again with plenty of miles to spare.”

“To know that she can still successfully raise young at age 60-plus, that is beyond words,” USGS bird banding program chief Bruce Peterjohn said. “While the process of banding a bird has not changed greatly during the past century, the information provided by birds marked with a simple numbered metal band has transformed our knowledge of birds.”

And while there have been other albatross birds spotted in the wild who are estimated to be around 50 years old, Wisdom is the only one on record to have given birth at such an advanced age. Though, some scientists may have seen the feat coming, when Wisdom gave birth two years ago to another chick, and has given birth to a total of five chicks since 2006.

“While I have grown old and gray and get around only with the use of a cane, Wisdom still looks and acts just the same as on the day I banded her,” said retired USGS scientist Chandler Robbins, who was in his 40s when he first banded Wisdom in 1956.

In 2001, Robbins “rediscovered” Wisdom, helping the USGS determine her age and track her record-setting reproductive habits.

Because the Laysan albatross mates for life, USGS officials estimate that Wisdom has had to take on several “much younger” male partners over the years to help foster an estimated 35 chicks.

“I’m trying to straighten out the record,” Robbins said. “It takes a lot.”

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