Laysan Albatross

Phoebastria immutabilis Order: Procellariiformes Family: Diomedeidae (Albatrosses)
Phoebastria immutabilis Order: Procellariiformes Family: Diomedeidae (Albatrosses)
Laysan Albatross

The Laysan Albatross, one of the smaller albatrosses, is also one of only two breeding in Hawaii and the Midway Atoll. The individual in the picture (taken by John Klavitter/U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service) is Wisdom, who was originally banded as a breeding bird in 1956 when she was at least 5 years old, and quite possibly even older. In 2016, she was raising yet another chick at age 65 or older! She is the oldest known wild bird.

Wisdom was originally banded by Chandler Robbins, who died in 2017 at the age of 99.

Here is the current entry about Wisdom in Guinness World Records:

Laysan Albatross (Wisdom): Oldest wild bird. The oldest recorded age for a bird in the wild is 70 years for a female Laysan albatross, or mōlī (Phoebastria immutabilis), named Wisdom. She was first ringed in 1956 - conservatively aged then at five years old - at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific Ocean, and was observed there again on 29 November 2020. Incredibly, Wisdom is still producing offspring, with her latest chick hatching on 1 February 2021. She is estimated to have raised more than 35 chicks over her lifetime.

Laysan albatrosses spend much of their life on the wing out at sea, and normally live up to 40 years of age. They return to land to breed, on average every other year, around November.

The US ornithologist Chandler Robbins, who died in 2017 aged 98, first placed an aluminium band around Wisdom’s ankle in 1956. Forty-six years later, Robbins spotted Wisdom among thousands of birds near the same nesting area and attached a new band.

Albatrosses typically mate for life, but have been known to re-pair if a partner dies. The name of Wisdom’s current mate, Akeakamai, is a Hawaiian word that means “a love of wisdom”. They have been together since 2006 and for the last 14 years have returned to Midway Atoll annually to lay an egg and rear a chick.

Note: that entry was current as of November 27, 2022. Wisdom had returned to Midway Island in December 2021, but left without laying an egg.

Laura's Published Works

More Photos