World’s Oldest Wild Bird Stumps Scientists By Giving Birth at Age 62

The world’s oldest known living wild bird just happens to be a new mother at the ripe age of 62. Maybe age ain’t nothing but a number after all.

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Pete Leary/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Wisdom, left, attempts to nudge her mate off the nest for her turn at incubating the couple's egg.

The oldest-known wild bird in the world is a new mother again, proving once and for all that age is just a number.

The aptly-named Wisdom, a Laysan albatross, has given birth to a chick at the age of 62. On February 3, on the Midway Islands between North America and Asia, in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific Ocean, Wisdom birthed a healthy chick in spite of her age.

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It’s not just the age at which she’s given birth that’s confounding scientists. Laysan albatross usually don’t even live half as long as Wisdom.

Scientists estimate that she’s hatched up to approximately 35 birds during her life — and one a year for the past six years, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – during an age when most humans would be cashing in their senior citizen discounts.

The common assumption amongst scientists is that the albatross often becomes infertile late in life, though it’s not clear when exactly that happens. Due to the difficulty of studying the species, Wisdom is helping to impart new fowl insight to scientists — but mostly, she’s simply continuing to stun them. Bruce Peterjohn, the chief of the Bird Banding Laboratory at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Md. explained his team’s stunned reactions in a news release:

If she were human, she would be eligible for Medicare in a couple years yet she is still regularly raising young and annually circumnavigating the Pacific Ocean. Simply incredible.

Indeed, Wisdom shows no signs of slowing. The Midway Atoll is located far from the mainland, roughly equidistant between Tokyo and San Francisco. This means Wisdom logs some serious skymiles each year in order to lay her egg. Scientists estimate she flies up to 50,000 miles a year. Not bad for being at a ripe old age.

MOREThe Oldest Wild U.S. Bird: Still Alive and Kicking, and a New Mom, at 60

70 comments
Bombastus
Bombastus

Headline should read: "World’s Oldest Wild Bird Stumps Scientists By Laying an Egg at Age 62" It would be amazing if the bird actually gave birth at any age. Congratulations to the happy couple. 

GeorgeKaplan
GeorgeKaplan

She looks pretty good for her age. I'd do her.

raningreen
raningreen

This is a great story, and quite interesting that she is still able to lay fertile eggs. I take exception to her 'giving birth to a chick'.  C'mon. Birds lay eggs. Let's not 'simplify' this to the point of being inaccurate.

paulrday55
paulrday55

Birds don't "give birth"!!  That would make it truly newsworthy...

texasghost01
texasghost01

So...a bird survived the horrible 50's and 60's?

PatrishDehler
PatrishDehler

Please read carefully - it says the  oldest-known wild bird.  So there may be older birds out there, but our scientists just don't know about them.  Wisdom" was banded by a U.S. Geological Survey researcher in 1956, so they know it's the same bird for you that have doubts.  As a senior, all I can say 'better you than me, and 'way to go gal'.  :)

RonPeacock
RonPeacock

World's oldest bird at 62?  I thought some birds, e.g. parrots and others, lived to maybe a hundred or so.  Guess I was wrong.

PavBel
PavBel

“@TIME: World's oldest bird gives birth at 62 | http://t.co/JdTHi91x (via@TIMENewsFeed)” How the hell is this news?

HollySmith
HollySmith

Really people? Are you seriously asking how do they know how old the bird is? I am surprised you didn't ask how do they know that it is the same bird. Oh wait now I got you idiots thinking that question! Just maybe scientists have been following that bird since it was born!!!!!! Oh yea for the question I put in your head the bird is probably marked.

fringbird
fringbird

@TIME Would someone please post the pilot's license of the bird so I can verify her age? Unless she has a driving license, also! Hmmmm

m_mawienarik
m_mawienarik

@TIME at 62 yrs and giving birth, not a previldge for female homosapiens

NYWELSH
NYWELSH

@TIME how do know it s the oldest bird ?? I know a few older

eggie1248
eggie1248

“@TIME: World's oldest bird gives birth at 62 | http://t.co/pA7nR8yj (via@TIMENewsFeed)” pati old bird naunahan pa ko manganak

simplyhowitis
simplyhowitis

@TIME @TIMENewsFeed how do they know that's the oldest bird?

Bhaskar_Bharati
Bhaskar_Bharati

@TIME if n d tiwari can in 80+ why not bird at 62, age is merely a number,think n live with +ve energy

Stlouiscanadian
Stlouiscanadian

@TIME think you laid an egg with this tweet. Birds giving birth.... My horse laid an egg!

kendell3820
kendell3820

@TIME read 'bird' as woman. That's all we need more old chicks hatching babies. Happy it's a feathery friend.

steve1957
steve1957

waitaminnit... if this bird was banded in 1956... isn't that 57 years?? so 62 is just a guess

NURSIE
NURSIE

AND HOW LONG DO PEACOCKS USUALLY LIVE??? 

DocumentingHistorywithPhotos
DocumentingHistorywithPhotos

@RonPeacock This is the world's oldest bird living in the wild, not in captivity. In the wild there are a lot of predators that can eat you and as a wild animal you are fending for yourself. It is true that parrots and exotic birds as pets have lived much longer but living in the wild and living under controlled conditions and being pampered are way different.

jakeragnarwiborg
jakeragnarwiborg

@PavBel How is it not? Rather read about this than politics.

cpc65
cpc65

@HollySmith  They counted the candles on her last birthday cake. It was Fudgie the Whale! 

DeliciaDeanne
DeliciaDeanne

@HollySmith I like the others, you don't have to be so nasty and a smart a$$. But they do know because the bird was banded. And if you look at the picture of the bird above you can see the band on it's leg. I know they keep track of animals they tag.

waderpotator
waderpotator

@HollySmith Wow. In my opinion it is a legitimate question. There are many ways to figure out how old the bird is. Maybe they were wondering about the accuracy of the age which would depend on the method used to determine the age of the bird. Maybe they were wondering if there was some guesswork. Maybe they wanted to know if the bird was born in captivity which would be the only way to get a truly accurate age of the bird.

boguem
boguem

@HollySmith You'd make a great teacher.  With that attitude I'd bet your students would soak up your wisdom.

DocumentingHistorywithPhotos
DocumentingHistorywithPhotos

@simplyhowitis Scientists are vewy smart like that....lol.... I believe it's called tagging. It is the oldest wild bird that they have tagged and tracked.

boguem
boguem

@kendell3820 So she qualifies as a "cougar" too?

boguem
boguem

@steve1957 Banded (and age confirmed) sometime after today's date in 1956...making her 62 until her birthday.

GeorgeKaplan
GeorgeKaplan

@DocumentingHistorywithPhotos  

of course, some scientists used to believe the sun revolved around the earth, that the earth was flat, and that masturbation caused you to go blind. So not all of dem that smart.....