Fish & Wildlife | Ecotrope

Good news: Wisdom has been found!

Ecotrope | March 22, 2011 10:26 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:39 p.m.

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The oldest known U.S. wild bird, a Laysan albatross named Wisdom, has been found after going missing for a week after Japan's tsunami.

The oldest known U.S. wild bird, a Laysan albatross named Wisdom, has been found after going missing for a week after Japan's tsunami.

Ah, Wisdom returns. Doesn’t that sound like the best news you’ve heard all day? Either that or the third novel in a sci-fi trilogy…

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that the 60-year-old albatross Wisdom – the world’s oldest documented wild bird – has returned to her nest at Midway Atoll. She was recently spotted feeding her chick.

Biologists were worried she had been swept away in Japan’s massive tsunami. She went missing for about a week after the big wave crossed Midway Atoll, as officials counted a total loss of 110,000 chicks and 2,000 adult albatross.

Barry Stieglitz, Project Leader for the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, explained why he and other biologists are thrilled to know Wisdom is alive and well:

“Although wildlife biologists generally manage at the level of populations, 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 USFWS also reports a short-tailed albatross chick, another celebrity in the Refuge, still appears orphaned:

“The parents of the short-tailed albatross chick hatched on Midway’s Eastern Island in January have yet to be seen. The chick - the first of its species hatched at Midway - was washed approximately 100 feet from its nest by the tsunami, but was later safely returned by Refuge biologists. Since the chick is incapable of fending for itself, the Service will carefully consider whether hand-rearing this bird is appropriate if it is determined that it is not being fed by its parents. It is believed these parents are at sea, gathering food for their chick like Wisdom was, and will be seen again. For more information on the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, please see: http://www.fws.gov/midway/

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