Monday, February 4, 2019


Image result for wisdom albatross

Environmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

Wisdom, a Laysan albatross, the world's oldest living bird (ca. 68 yo), not only has returned to Midway Atoll but has laid another egg.  It is thought to be her 40th.

Wisdom was first banded by Chandler Robbins in 1956. She was anonymous, just one of 8400 albatrosses banded that year.  She was mature and was estimated to be about 5 years old. In 2002, when her fame began, Robbins returned to Midway to band and reband birds. Can you imagine his surprise and pleasure he learned he had banded her 46 years earlier. She would have been more than 50 years old.

Wisdom and her mate Akeakamai ("lover of wisdom) have returned to the same nest-site on Midway Atoll each year.  Biologists refer to this as "nest-site fidelity." Usually, albatrosses lay eggs every other year, but this pair has laid, hatched an egg and raised a chick every year since 2006. The nesting season is from October to December and then spend the rest of their year mostly in the air gliding above the Pacific Ocean and feeding, e.g., on squid and small fish and also and unfortunately on plastic surface debris.

Robbins, a US Fish and Wildlife Biologist (USFWS), died in 2017, age 98. What lovely symmetries he and Wisdom have experienced--he finding her after 46 years and their longevity.

The USFWS Pacific Region has a web page on Wisdom and the albatrosses of Midway that includes photographs, a photo album of Wisdom through time, the contributions of Chandler Robbins (he was a physics and maths major in college, taught school for a while and then joined the USFWS), and information about the refuge and the birds who rely on it and many links to stories.

A web page about Wisdom is found Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Battle of Midway National Monument.

No comments:

Post a Comment