Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Oldest U.S. Bird Found Again

The oldest known bird in U.S. states and territories is a female Laysan Albatross named Wisdom. She breeds at Midway Atoll and disappeared after the recent tsunami swept over the atoll's islands. Her chick survived, and yesterday she was seen feeding her chick for the first time after the tsunami. Barry Stieglitz, Project Leader for the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, had this to say about Wisdom's return (pdf):
"Although wildlife biologists generally manage at the level of populations," Stieglitz said, "we, too, become entwined in the fates of individual animals. Wisdom is one such special creature. She has also provided us valuable information about the longevity of these beautiful birds - in her case over 60 years - and reinforces the importance of breeding adults in the population. It's also very humbling to know this 8-pound bird has been producing chicks longer than I have been alive."
The fate of the parents of the endangered Short-tailed Albatross chick is still unknown, but the chick at least survived.

The image at the top of this post was taken by Pete Leary of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. You can read updates about the albatrosses and cleanup from the tsunami at Midway on his blog.