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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

60 year old albatross hatches chick. Talk about stamina!

Photo Credit: John Klavitter, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Her name is Wisdom and she certainly knows something about life.  Not only is Wisdom the oldest wild bird in North America, she's also perhaps the oldest mother.  At sixty years of age, Wisdom successfully hatched a chick, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

And this is hardly an anomaly.  She is known to have successfully reproduced for at least the last several years and has more than 30 chicks under her belt total.

To put this in perspective, elephants can live up to 70 years (the oldest I am aware of died at age 82) and giant tortoises around 100 (although some have been reported to break 175).  Other Methuselah species include sturgeon (100+ years) and crocodiles (70+ years).

But for a bird, Wisdom is off the charts.  In 1986, according to Dr. M. Kathleen Klimkiewicz of the Bird Banding Laboratory (USFWS), the longest lived bird was another albatross that clocked in at 37 years and 5 months.  And even THAT was an old-timer for a bird.  Most avian species live between 3 to 20 years.

Because most of us are far more familiar with dogs than albatrosses, I will leave you with one final frame of reference.  The American Kennel Club will not register pups from females breeding past the age of 12 years.  Wisdom has our dogs beat almost six times over!

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