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Oldest U.S. Wild Bird a Mother ... Again March 11, 2011
Laysan albatross  Wisdom
A Laysan albatross first banded in 1956 mothering what is likely to be her 30th to 35th chick.
The oldest known wild bird in the United States has given birth once again at the golden age of at least 60, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

While no spring chicken, the Laysan albatross named Wisdom is currently raising a chick at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific Islands.

The bird has worn out five bird bands since the first one was placed on her while incubating an egg in 1956.

Since she needed to be at least 5 years old at that time in order to have bred, wildlife experts believe she is likely to be in her early 60s.

Wisdom has probably raised at least 30 to 35 chicks during her life, according to Bruce Peterjohn, the chief of the North American Bird Banding Program at the U.S. Geological Survey.

And since the long-haul species log about 50,000 miles of flight per year as adults, Wisdom has probably flown 2 to 3 million miles since she was first banded. That's equivalent to the distance of 4 to 6 trips to the moon and back.

Adult albatrosses also mate for life, with both parents raising the young. But USGS researchers do not know if Wisdom has had the same partner during all of her 60 years of raising offspring.

Peterjohn tells Earthweek that the second-oldest known Laysan albatross lived to be 42 years and 5 months. It had been banded as a chick, so wildlife officials were able to determine a more precise age for it.

Photo: John Klavitter - U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service