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Oldest Known Bird Has Chick At Age 60

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A biologist from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came across a 60-year-old Laysan Albatross weeks ago in a remote wildlife refuge outside of Honolulu and saw that it was mothering a chick.

How do they know this seabird’s age? A member of the U.S. Geological Survey banded the bird—named Wisdom—in 1956 when she was around five years old. Documentation proves she is the oldest wild bird in the bird-banding program, which has been around for almost 100 years.

Wisdom has raised an estimated 30 to 35 chicks in her lifetime, which means half her life has been devoted to incubating and raising chicks. Albatrosses are able to lay only one egg per year and spend the first year incubating and raising their offspring.

What’s equally astounding is that, for a Laysan Albatross, Wisdom is well past the species’ expected lifespan. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the maximum lifespan of a Laysan Albatross is around 45 years—and only 2% of birds within a population survive to that age.

“She looks great,” said Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the North American Bird Banding Program. “To know that she can still successfully raise young at age 60-plus, that is beyond words.”

Adorable and interesting news, especially considering the recently proven existence of bird empathy between mother birds and their chicks.

(Via Huffington Post)

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