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.

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