It’s home to the world’s largest colony of albatrosses wild bird, which are seabirds that spend most of their time in the air, and only return to land to mate or rear their chicks.
BY DANIAL MARTINUS
Every year, millions of birds flock to the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, located on a Northern Pacific island in Hawaii, U.S., to reunite with their mates and hatch new chicks.
It’s home to the world’s largest colony of albatrosses, which are seabirds that spend most of their time in the air, and only return to land to mate or rear their chicks. Unlike other birds, albatrosses mate for life, which means they stick to one partner forever, or at least until one of them dies.
Though researchers are used to seeing the birds nest on the island, one white Laysan albatross has grabbed everyone’s attention.
At 70 years old, Wisdom, as they call her, is the world’s oldest known living wild bird. On February 1, 2021, she hatched her 39th chick.
“Each year that Wisdom returns, we learn more about how long seabirds can live and raise chicks,” says Beth Flint, a supervisory wildlife biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
“Her return not only inspires bird lovers everywhere, but helps us better understand how we can protect these graceful seabirds and the habitat they need to survive into the future.”
According to USFWS, Wisdom and her current mate Akeakamai have been meeting on the island to raise chicks together since 2006.
“We believe Wisdom has had other mates,” says Flint. “Though albatross mate for life, they may find new partners if necessary — for example, if they outlive their first mate.”
She has even outlived the biologist who first tagged her in 1956.
Albatross parents typically share incubation duties after laying the egg.
The incubation period itself usually lasts around 65 days, and hatchings on Midway Atoll usually take place in January and February every year.
Wisdom laid her last egg in the tail-end of November 2020, leading up to its hatching in February 2021. Shortly after laying her egg, Wisdom took off to sea to forage for food while her mate took care of incubation duties.
By June or July, her chick will have developed feathers big enough for its first flight.
Aside from albatrosses, Midway Atoll is home to more than 20 other bird species who rely on it to mate and nest. The very first albatross tagging on the island took place in 1936.
Originally published at Mashable se asia