26th Jan 2024
The world's oldest wild bird - "Wisdom" the albatross returns to Midway Island
The world’s oldest known wild bird, a Laysan Albatross known as “Wisdom”, has recently returned to the remote Pacific Island of Midway where she has been breeding for over sixty years.
Wisdom was first ringed in 1956 whilst breeding on the island and was believed to be a minimum of five years old meaning that she is now at least 73 years old !! During her long life, this amazing albatross is believed to have produced as many as sixty eggs and raised around thirty chicks.
Although her most recent mate has not been seen for a couple of seasons, nevertheless, Wisdom has recently been seeing displaying with other albatrosses on the island.
As the first sightings of her this season were in early December 2023, it seems highly unlikely that this amazing individual will succeed in raising yet another youngster during 2024 having last done so at the tender age of seventy.
Midway Island is, of course, famous from the battles of the Second World War, however, the island is now a nature reserve run by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and there are believed to be over 400,000 pairs of Laysan Albatrosses breeding on the island.
As well as these, a handful of Short-tailed Albatrosses have recently started breeding on Midway Island, a species which otherwise is only found on Torishima Island (south of Japan) and on a disputed island in the East China Sea.
Whilst tourist visits to Midway Island are now no longer possible, both Laysan and Short-tailed Albatrosses are regularly seen on the latter stages of the West Pacific Odyssey which is available through Limosa and WildWings. In recent years, the Japanese authorities have given permission for the ship to circumnavigate the island (as only researchers are permitted to go ashore) allowing participants to have views of hundreds of albatrosses including the colonies of the rare Short-tailed.
To read more about the West Pacific Odyssey please click here.
Wisdom, the world's oldest known wild bird © Keegan Rankin/USFWS