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World's Oldest Living Bird Shocks Scientists By Hatching Another Chick at Age 62

Update Date: Feb 07, 2013 12:09 PM EST
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Isn't 62 a little old to be starting a new family? Not for Wisdom, the world's oldest known living wild bird has become a new mom at the age of 62.

Wisdom, the Laysan albatross, hatched a baby chick for the sixth consecutive year on San Island the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge earlier this month.  Experts believe that the old grey and white bird could have gave hatched as many as 35 chicks in her lifetime.

Wisdom was tagged by scientists in 1956 and has since flown an extraordinary 3 million miles, which is equivalent to four to six trips from the Earth to the Moon and back again, according to the news release issued by the U.S. Geological Survey. While it was previously believed that most albatross females lose their fertility later in life, Wisdom has proven the theory wrong.

"As Wisdom rewrites the record books, she provides new insights into the remarkable biology of seabirds," Dr. Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the North American Bird Banding Program at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel said in a statement. "It is beyond words to describe the amazing accomplishments of this wonderful bird and how she demonstrates the value of bird banding to better understand the world around us. 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."

"It blows us away that this is a 62-year-old bird and she keeps laying eggs and raising chicks," Peterjohn said to Washington Post.

"We know that birds will eventually stop reproducing, when they're too old to breed anymore," he said. "The assumption about albatross is it will happen to them, too. But we don't know where that line is. That in and of itself is pretty amazing."

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service experts say that Wisdom is the oldest bird they know of in the organization's 90-year history and has already lived more than twice the age of an average Laysan albatross

Wisdom and her baby chick were photographed on the island in Midway Atoll, a small U.S. territory located in the North Pacific nestled between Honolulu and Tokyo, according to the Daily Mail.

Researchers still do not know the gender of Wisdom's new chick, but they say that the baby bird is doing well and that Wisdom and her mate are taking turns feeding it.

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