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When Does an Aging Bird Stop Laying Eggs?

A Laysan albatross typically lives for around 40 years, spending most of its life in the air, flying thousands of miles every year in search of food. Once an albatross reaches adulthood, it’s difficult to determine the bird's age, but ornithologist Chandler Robbins banded one particular Laysan albatross back in 1956, so biologists know that the bird is still going strong. In fact, at around 66 years of age, the bird that Robbins named Wisdom just hatched another chick at her breeding home on Midway Atoll in the Hawaiian archipelago. Wisdom, the world's oldest-known wild breeding bird, is providing scientists with valuable information about reproduction in older animals.

Not ready for retirement:

  • The Laysan albatross lays no more than one egg per year, and sometimes none. Wisdom and her mate return to the same spot every year to rekindle their relationship.
  • Albatrosses mate for life, but Wisdom has outlived several males. She is believed to have raised 30 to 36 chicks over her lifetime.
  • Chandler Robbins passed away in March 2017 at the age of 98; the renowned ornithologist was still volunteering with the Bird Banding Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, during the last years of his life.
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