Wisdom the Midway Albatross


Wisdom, the Midway Albatross—the oldest bird in the world—hatched a new chick in 2011, and two months later, the Japanese tsunami struck. Surviving manmade and natural disasters for over 60 years, Wisdom has braved living wild, plastic pollution, longline fishing, lead poisoning, and the Japanese earthquake. A new mother at 63+ years old, this seabird inspires hope amidst the difficulties of life.

The oldest wild bird in the world faced yet another danger when the Japanese Tsunami struck Midway Island where she lives. This is Wisdom’s astounding story of survival of manmade and natural disasters for over 60 years. She has survived the dangers of living wild, plastic pollution, longline fishing, lead poisoning, and the Japanese earthquake.

At 65+ years old, she’s still alive and still laying eggs and hatching chicks. A must-read true story to capture the imagination of children of any age.

Darcy Pattison’s Wisdom, the Midway Albatross inspires young scientists and nature lovers with a true story of an individual animal in an easy to read format with captivating illustrations. It’s the first of a series of fascinating animal biographies for elementary readers. Pattison’s science-related books bring kids face to face with the basic questions of science and help them think like scientists.

You’ll be awed and inspired as you read this amazing story of survival and hope amidst the difficulties of life. As you read it, think of this majestic albatross soaring over the deep blue sea, wild and free.


“It’s marvelous! I LOVE it! And I got a lump in my throat, tears! And I’m a biologist! Your book is beautiful, meaningful, simple, elegant………thank you for caring, thank you for sharing this story!”

Kim Rivera, National Seabird Coordinator, NOAA Fisheries, Deputy ARA, Protected Resources Division, Alaska Region

“Wisdom’s story makes my heart soar.”

Kirby Larson, author of Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival and Winner of the Newbery Honor for Hattie Big Sky.

“On December 10, 1956, early in my first visit to Midway, I banded 99 incubating Laysan Albatrosses in the ‘downtown’ area of Sand Island, Midway. Wisdom (band number 587-51945) is still alive, healthy, and incubating again in December 2011. 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. . . remarkable true story. . . beautifully illustrated in color.”

Chandler S. Robbins, Sc.D, Senior Scientist (Retired), USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD.


Q – How would you describe your animal biographies?

A –Many science and nature books talk about endangered species. Instead, I wanted to tell stories about individual animals. It’s not easy to find a story of an individual because so few are tracked across their lifetime. Wisdom’s story was amazing because she’s been banded since December 10, 1956. While we don’t know everything about her life, we can infer a lot by studying the natural history of her habitat. Her life has been impacted by storms – tropical storms, hurricanes, tsunamis—and by every type of pollution that exists in the Pacific Ocean. I find the story of ONE bird much more interesting than the story of an entire species.

Q – Why did you want to write science for kids?

A –I love the basic questions of science: What happened? Why did it happen? Can you describe and explain this natural phenomenon? I want to inspire kids to think like scientists, to be awed at the world that surrounds them. Ultimately, I hope some of my readers go on to make amazing discoveries, to save the Earth from all sorts of pollutions and dangers, and add to the growing body of knowledge about the planet on which we live.


How Big is an Albatross? Taped at 2012 Arkansas Audubon Summer Camp, this video features kids measuring their arm span against an albatross’s wingspan.

If you can’t see this video, click here.

Quick 30-second Book Trailer

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Creative Coloring Pages

Wisdom: Mentor Text for Teaching Writing
Vivid Verbs Lesson by Marcia Atkins

Share Wisdom’s Story on These Special Days

These organizations have many teaching resources on their websites.

Read the award-winning series Another Extraordinary Animal Series. Starred PW review and two NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Books. | MimsHouse.com

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