1. Headline
  1. Headline
Image: Laysan albatross named Wisdom, left, and mate
Pete Leary/USFWS
After returning from foraging at sea on Nov. 29, 2012, Wisdom (left) attempts to nudge her mate off the nest for her turn at incubating the couple's egg.
By Staff Writer
OurAmazingPlanet
updated 2/5/2013 4:35:50 PM ET 2013-02-05T21:35:50

The oldest known wild bird in the United States has hatched a chick — for the sixth year in a row.

The Laysan albatross named Wisdom, thought to be at least 62 years old, hatched a healthy-looking chick on Feb. 3, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Wisdom and her young chick inhabit Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), which is famous for its Laysan albatross population.

"Everyone continues to be inspired by Wisdom as a symbol of hope for her species," said Doug Staller, the Fish and Wildlife Service superintendent for the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which encompasses Midway Atoll NWR.

  1. Science news from NBCNews.com
    1. Cosmic rays may spark Earth's lightning
      NOAA

      All lightning on Earth may have its roots in space, new research suggests.

    2. How our brains can track a 100 mph pitch
    3. Moth found to have ultrasonic hearing
    4. Quantum network could secure Internet

Wisdom was first banded in 1956 while incubating an egg; bands are attached to the legs of birds to help scientists track and study them. At the time, she was estimated to be at least 5 years old. This is the youngest these birds breed, though they more typically mate at age 8 or 9 after an involved courtship lasting several years. So she may be even older than 62, and is still breeding, according to the release.

"As Wisdom rewrites the record books, she provides new insights into the remarkable biology of seabirds," said Bruce Peterjohn, head of the bird banding program at the U.S. Geological Survey, in the statement. "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."

The bird has likely hatched 30 to 35 chicks in her long life, although that number might be higher, Peterjohn said in the release. Laysan albatross have a wingspan of 6 feet and fly about 50,000 miles a year as adults. This means Wisdom has flown at least 2 million to 3 million miles since being banded, according to the statement. That's the same distance as up to six trips from the Earth to the moon and back.

All but two of the 21 species of albatross are threatened with extinction, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Wisdom has seen a lot in her day, and always survived to continue propagating her species. In 2011, she survived the 5-foot (1.5 meters) tsunami the hit Midway after Japan's 9.0-magnitude earthquake. The tsunami killed an estimated 2,000 adult albatrosses and about 110,000 chicks in the wildlife refuge. Midway lies close to the northwestern end of the Hawaiian Islands, about one-third of the way between Honolulu and Tokyo. The atoll is an unincorporated U.S. territory.

Reach Douglas Main at dmain@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @Douglas_Main. Follow OurAmazingPlanet on Twitter@OAPlanet. We're also onFacebook and Google+.

© 2012 OurAmazingPlanet. All rights reserved. More from OurAmazingPlanet.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Getty Images

    Jenna Bush Hager, celebs remember Oscar de la Renta with adoration

    10/21/2014 1:36:20 PM +00:00 2014-10-21T13:36:20
  1. Ebola outbreak: West Africans must arrive at 5 U.S. airports

    All travelers from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa must pass through one of five major U.S. airports with heightened entry screening before entering the country, the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday.

    10/21/2014 4:22:36 PM +00:00 2014-10-21T16:22:36
  1. Car owners warned about exploding air bags

    video The federal government is urging nearly 5 million people to get the air bags in their cars repaired because they pose a potentially deadly risk in the event of an accident. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

    10/21/2014 11:36:09 AM +00:00 2014-10-21T11:36:09
  1. Dimitrios Kambouris / Getty Images

    Best baby-bump style? Blake Lively stuns again on red carpet

    10/21/2014 3:32:04 PM +00:00 2014-10-21T15:32:04
  1. Chris Jackson / Getty Images

    Kate's back! Duchess Kate appears for first time since pregnancy news

    10/21/2014 11:57:43 AM +00:00 2014-10-21T11:57:43