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World's oldest known wild bird hatches a new baby

An albatross named Wisdom might not be a spring chicken, but she's still having chicks at an impressive age.

Wisdom and baby
Wisdom the albatross handles some mothering duties.
US Fish and Wildlife Service/Kaipo Kiaha

If Wisdom the Laysan albatross was a human, then tabloids the world over would be running this headline: "65-year-old has a baby!"

According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Wisdom is the world's oldest known banded wild bird. And she's also a new mother.

Wisdom currently lives at the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii. She laid an egg in late November and it just hatched this February.

Wisdom was first tagged in 1956, when she was at least 5 years old. She is "breaking longevity records of previously banded birds by at least a decade," refuge manager Robert Peyton said in a statement. Chandler Robbins, the biologist who first banded Wisdom, still checks in at the refuge on occasion at age 97.

Wisdom laid an egg in late 2014, but it went missing, not an unusual happening. Other birds on the island, such as the bristle-thighed curlew, are know for eating eggs.

The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that Wisdom has reared over 30 chicks and flown over 3 million miles (over 4.8 million kilometers) in her lifetime.

Wisdom's mate recently received the name "Akeakamai" (a Hawaiian name meaning "lover of wisdom") after a public vote. The chick is named Kūkini, which means "messenger." Akeakamai was the one sitting on the nest when the chick hatched on February 1. Wisdom was out to sea at the time, but returned a week later to meet the baby.

Wisdom may be setting records, but she also has a lot of company on the island. Volunteers counted 470,000 active nests at Midway Atoll, but Wisdom's feathered family is the one that gets the most public attention.

(Via EarthSky)