Wisdom (albatross)

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Laysan albatross fws.JPG
Wisdom with one of her chicks, in March 2011
SpeciesLaysan albatross
Hatchedc. 1951 (age 70–71)
Known forWorld's oldest known 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.[1]



Wisdom hatched around 1951, and possibly earlier. In 1956, she was tagged by scientists as #Z333 at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. It is likely that Wisdom is older than 70, as, when she was banded in 1956, she was conservatively estimated to be five years old — the earliest age that the Laysan albatross reaches sexual maturity.[2] The person to attach the first tag was Chandler Robbins, who was a senior scientist at the United States Geological Survey (USGS).[3] Birds are banded so that their populations can be monitored and individuals' longevity, behavior and migration patterns can be studied.[4]

The USGS have tracked Wisdom since she was first tagged and estimated that Wisdom has flown over 3,000,000 miles (4,800,000 km) since 1956 (approximately 120 times the circumference of the Earth). To accommodate her longevity, the USGS have replaced her tag a total of six times.[3]


Albatrosses lay one egg per year, and have monogamous mates for life.[5] Smithsonian speculated that, due to Wisdom's unusual longevity, she may have had to find another mate in order to continue breeding.[6] Biologists estimated that Wisdom has laid some 30–40 eggs in her lifetime and that she has at least 30–36 chicks.[7] She has successfully hatched a chick every year since 2006.

  • Between 2005 and 2014, Wisdom laid eight eggs.[8] She and her chick 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.[9]
  • On December 3, 2014, Wisdom made headlines when she laid an egg at Midway Atoll. Her mate had arrived at the atoll on November 19, and Wisdom was first spotted by the Refuge staff on November 22.[10] The egg was estimated to be the 36th she had laid.
  • She hatched and reared another chick in December 2016 at the approximate age of 66.
  • In December 2017, she bred again.[11][12]
  • In December 2018, United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Pacific Region reported that Wisdom had returned to the Midway Atoll and laid an egg,[13] which hatched in February 2019.[14]
  • In December 2020, it was reported that Wisdom was again incubating an egg.[15] The chick hatched on February 1, 2021.[16]
  • On November 26, 2021, she was once again seen at the atoll.[17]


The USFWS 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."[18]

Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the North American Bird Banding Program, stated that Wisdom "[was] now the oldest wild bird documented in the 90-year history of [the] USGS-FWS and Canadian bird banding program. To know that she can still successfully raise young at age 60-plus, that is beyond words."[19]

Wisdom has received coverage from many major news sources in the United States and elsewhere, including The Guardian,[20] National Geographic,[21] Discovery News,[19] and 60 Minutes. In January 2020, Wisdom was featured in episode 3, "Hawaii", of BBC Two's Earth's Tropical Islands.[22]


  1. ^ Chappell, Bill (March 5, 2021). "Wisdom The Albatross, Now 70, Hatches Yet Another Chick". NPR.
  2. ^ Steutermann Rogers, Kim (February 26, 2021). "The world's oldest known wild bird just turned 70—why she's so special". National Geographic. Archived from the original on March 5, 2021. Retrieved March 5, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Fears, Darryl (5 Feb 2013). "Albatross named Wisdom astounds scientists by producing chick at age 62". Washington Post. Archived from the original on 14 July 2017. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  4. ^ "Bird Banding Laboratory". www.usgs.gov. Archived from the original on 2021-01-07. Retrieved 2021-03-05.
  5. ^ "Wisdom the Laysan Albatross Lays an Egg – at Age 63". NBC. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  6. ^ Schultz, Colin (14 Feb 2014). "Wisdom the Albatross, the World's Oldest Known Wild Bird, Has Yet Another Baby". Smithsonian. Archived from the original on 5 March 2021. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
  7. ^ "Wisdom the albatross, the world's oldest known wild bird, has another chick at age 70". the Guardian. March 5, 2021.
  8. ^ Stenger, Richard (2019-11-28). "The oldest living things on Earth". CNN Travel. Archived from the original on 2020-01-09. Retrieved 2020-01-09.
  9. ^ "Oldest Known Wild Bird Survives Tsunami". All About Birds. 2011-04-15. Archived from the original on 2017-01-07. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  10. ^ Thomas, Pete (17 Dec 2014). "Wisdom the albatross lays yet another egg". Grind TV. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  11. ^ Richards, Holly (16 Feb 2017). "Wisdom, the World's Oldest Known, Banded Wild Bird has a new chick". Pacific United States Fish and Wildlife. Archived from the original on 29 January 2018. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  12. ^ Starr, Michelle (8 January 2018). "The World's Oldest Known Wild Bird Is About to Become a Mum at 67, Baffling Scientists". Science Alert. Archived from the original on 11 January 2018. Retrieved 11 January 2018.
  13. ^ "World's Oldest Wild Bird Returns to Midway!". USFWS Pacific Region. Archived from the original on 2018-12-05. Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  14. ^ "Wisdom the albatross, world's oldest wild bird, is a mother again at 68". South China Morning Post. 2019-02-13. Archived from the original on 2019-09-30. Retrieved 2019-09-30.
  15. ^ "A Reason for Hope: Wisdom, world's oldest known, banded bird, returns to Midway Atoll". U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Pacific Islands. 3 December 2020. Archived from the original on 4 December 2020. Retrieved 5 December 2020.
  16. ^ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Pacific Islands (5 February 2021). "World's oldest known, banded wild bird hatches chick at Midway Atoll". Medium.com. Archived from the original on 5 February 2021. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  17. ^ Islands, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Pacific (2021-12-15). "World's oldest known wild bird turns 70 and returns to Midway Atoll". Conservation in the Pacific Islands. Retrieved 2021-12-18.
  18. ^ Fortin, Amanda (3 Dec 2014). "Sharing Wisdom – World's Oldest Banded Bird Teaches Us About Power of One". United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  19. ^ a b Wall, Tim (10 Mar 2011). "Albatross Mom 'Wisdom' Tsunami Survivor". Discovery News. Archived from the original on 7 January 2015. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  20. ^ Fears, Darryl (12 Feb 2013). "Albatross astonishes scientists by producing chick at age of 62". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 22 November 2017. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  21. ^ Dell'Amore, Christine (21 Feb 2013). "Oldest Known Wild Bird Hatches Chick at 62". National Geographic. Archived from the original on 20 March 2015. Retrieved 29 December 2014.
  22. ^ "BBC Two – Earth's Tropical Islands, Series 1, Hawaii". BBC. Archived from the original on 2020-01-04. Retrieved 2020-01-03.

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