On Saturday morning, Wisdom (left), the world's oldest (at least 63 years old) known albatross was observed with her mate for the first time this breeding season within feet of their usual nesting site. Wisdom has a highly visible band labeled Z333 which allows us to recognize her from a distance. Her mate, who was first sighted last Wednesday, has the band number G000. It is typical for Laysan albatross males to arrive first and stake claim to the nest site. Wisdom was gone by Sunday morning which is also not unexpected.
The breeding albatrosses, both male and female, typically return to sea shortly after mating. After about 5-10 days, the female will return and lay a single egg in a bowl-like nest made from sand and grass. The males will return shortly thereafter, though some may remain to guard the nest site while the female is away. Midway Atoll is crowded with hundreds of thousands of albatross pairs that are currently staking out their nest sites. Although it's not set in stone that they will successfully breed and raise a chick in any given year, this pair has successfully bred in each of the last seven years. We'll keep an eye on them and post updates of their progress. We use telephoto lenses from about 30 feet away to avoid disturbing them too much. Write-up and photo by: Bret Wolfe/USFWS
Check out the photo gallery of the chick this pair reared last season!