The Oldest Bird in the World Hatches a New Chick: How Old is She?

On the tiny Midway Atoll, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there lives the oldest bird, that is the oldest wild nesting bird. Wisdom, a Laysan albatross, and her mate, Akeakamai, nest close to the old Navy bunkhouses. Seabirds, they fly over the north Pacific for half the year before returning to Midway in December to nest.

Book cover of Wisdom, the Midway Albatross, the oldest bird | Surviving plastic pollution and other disasters for over 65 years. | Mims House
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I’ve been following Wisdom’s story since the 2011 Japanese tsunami. I wrote about her amazing survival story then. Her story is intriguing because she was banded by ornithologist Chandler Robbins in 1956, which means we can document that she is over 67 years old. Because she’s so old, I keep thinking that this is her last year to hatch a chick. One of these days, she just won’t come back in December. I anxiously await word that she’s back–somehow, she survived another year.

Scientists think that albatrosses will often take a sabbatical year, a year when they won’t come back and nest. But she’s been laying eggs continuously since 2003. Even if she didn’t show up in December, I’d think she’s just taking a vacation and hope that she’d be back the next year. Instead, she’s steady as clockwork. Appears in December to nest and lay an egg. Hatches that chick in February.

Well, two years ago, the chick didn’t hatch. For whatever reason, the egg just didn’t mature. It’s a common thing among the albatrosses. And last year’s chick hatched on February 4 with no problems.

Still, it’s exciting! On February 6th, 2018, Wisdom hatched a new chick. No one knows how many babies she’s had, but scientists estimate 30-35.

Read more about her story in this February 2018 news article.

The Oldest Bird and Her Family 2017

This video shows the 2017 chick. I haven’t seen any photos of the 2018 chick yet. (Let me know if you see one!)

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

See teacher materials including student-made videos, coloring pages, and a vivid verbs worksheet.