Wisdom (albatross)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Laysan albatross fws.JPG
Wisdom with one of her chicks, in March 2011
SpeciesLaysan albatross
Hatchedc. 1951
Known forWorld's oldest wild bird;
World's oldest banded bird

Wisdom (Z333) is a wild female Laysan albatross. She is the oldest confirmed wild bird in the world as well as the oldest banded bird in the world.


Wisdom hatched in or around 1951. In 1956, at the estimated age of five, she was tagged by scientists as #Z333 at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge for study, but then returned to the wild rather than being kept in captivity. The person to attach the first tag was Chandler Robbins, who was a senior scientist at the United States Geological Survey (USGS).[1] Birds are banded so that they can be studied, including their locations, flight patterns, longevity, and a myriad of other data that can be collected.

On December 3, 2014, Wisdom made headlines when she laid an egg at the Midway Atoll. Her mate had arrived at the atoll on November 19 and Wisdom was first spotted by the refuge staff November 22.[2] The egg was estimated to be number 36 for Wisdom over her lifetime. Albatrosses lay one egg per year and have monogamous mates for life. In nine years from 2005 to 2014, Wisdom laid an egg for eight of them.[3] Smithsonian has speculated that since Wisdom is so unusually old for her species, she may have had to find another mate to keep breeding.[4]

The USGS have tracked Wisdom since she was tagged, and they have logged that Wisdom has flown over three million miles since 1956 (approximately 120 times the circumference of the Earth). To accommodate her increasing longevity, the USGS has replaced her tag a total of six times.[1] Together with her chick, she survived the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that killed an estimated 2,000 adult Laysan and Black-footed albatrosses, and a much larger number of chicks, at the refuge.[5] Wisdom has laid some 30-40 eggs in her lifetime.[6]

In December, 2016, Wisdom (at the approximate age of 66) hatched and reared another chick. In December 2017, she was breeding again. Most albatrosses lay every other year, but Wisdom has successfully hatched a chick every year since 2006.[7][8] In December 2018, USFWS Pacific Region reported that Wisdom was back on Midway Atoll and had laid an egg.[9] In February 2019 the egg hatched.[10]


The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has stated, "Wisdom’s continued contribution to the fragile albatross population is remarkable and important. Her health and dedication have led to the birth of other healthy offspring which will help recover albatross populations on Laysan and other islands."[11]

Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the North American Bird Banding Program, stated, "she is now the oldest wild bird documented in the 90-year history of our USGS-FWS and Canadian bird banding program. To know that she can still successfully raise young at age 60-plus, that is beyond words."[12]

Wisdom has received coverage from many major news sources in the United States and elsewhere, including The Guardian,[13] National Geographic,[14] Discovery News,[12] and 60 Minutes. In January 2020 Wisdom was featured in episode 3, "Hawaii", of BBC Two's Earth's Tropical Islands.[15]


  1. ^ a b Fears, Darryl (5 Feb 2013). "Albatross named Wisdom astounds scientists by producing chick at age 62". Washington Post. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  2. ^ Thomas, Pete (17 Dec 2014). "Wisdom the albatross lays yet another egg". Grind TV. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  3. ^ "Wisdom the Laysan Albatross Lays an Egg - at Age 63". NBC. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  4. ^ Schultz, Colin (14 Feb 2014). "Wisdom the Albatross, the World's Oldest Known Wild Bird, Has Yet Another Baby". Smithsonian. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  5. ^ "Oldest Known Wild Bird Survives Tsunami". All About Birds. 2011-04-15. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  6. ^ Stenger, Richard (2019-11-28). "The oldest living things on Earth". CNN Travel. Retrieved 2020-01-09.
  7. ^ Richards, Holly (16 Feb 2017). "Wisdom, the World's Oldest Known, Banded Wild Bird has a new chick". Pacific United States Fish and Wildlife. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  8. ^ Starr, Michelle (8 January 2018). "The World's Oldest Known Wild Bird Is About to Become a Mum at 67, Baffling Scientists". Science Alert. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  9. ^ "World's Oldest Wild Bird Returns to Midway!". USFWS Pacific Region. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  10. ^ "Wisdom the albatross, world's oldest wild bird, is a mother again at 68". South China Morning Post. 2019-02-13. Retrieved 2019-09-30.
  11. ^ Fortin, Amanda (3 Dec 2014). "Sharing Wisdom - World's Oldest Banded Bird Teaches Us About Power of One". United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  12. ^ a b Wall, Tim (10 Mar 2011). "Albatross Mom 'Wisdom' Tsunami Survivor". Discovery News. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  13. ^ Fears, Darryl (12 Feb 2013). "Albatross astonishes scientists by producing chick at age of 62". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  14. ^ Dell'Amore, Christine (21 Feb 2013). "Oldest Known Wild Bird Hatches Chick at 62". National Geographic. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  15. ^ "BBC Two - Earth's Tropical Islands, Series 1, Hawaii". BBC.