News Release

March 21, 2011

Wisdom Found!

Media Contacts:
Barry W. Stieglitz, 808-792-9540

The world's oldest documented wild bird, Wisdom, was seen feeding her chick

After releasing revised estimates of the impact of the March 10-11 tsunami on nesting albatross at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials are pleased to announce that Wisdom has returned.

In the face of tremendous losses of Laysan and black-footed albatross at the Refuge - including an estimated 110,000 chicks and 2,000 adults - to the tsunami that overwashed portions of the Refuge, biologists are thrilled to discover that Wisdom survived, said Barry Stieglitz, Project Leader for the Hawaiian and Pacific Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex.

"Although wildlife biologists generally manage at the level of populations," Stieglitz said, "we, too, become entwined in the fates of individual animals. Wisdom is one such special creature. She has also provided us valuable information about the longevity of these beautiful birds - in her case over 60 years - and reinforces the importance of breeding adults in the population. It's also very humbling to know this 8-pound bird has been producing chicks longer than I have been alive."

The Refuge's other "celebrity" albatross' fate remains uncertain. The parents of the short-tailed albatross chick hatched on Midway's Eastern Island in January have yet to be seen. The chick - the first of its species hatched at Midway - was washed approximately 100 feet from its nest by the tsunami, but was later safely returned by Refuge biologists. Since the chick is incapable of fending for itself, the Service will carefully consider whether hand-rearing this bird is appropriate if it is determined that it is not being fed by its parents. It is believed these parents are at sea, gathering food for their chick like Wisdom was, and will be seen again. For more information on the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, please see:

For more information on the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, please see:

Tsunami images from Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and Laysan Island are available at:

Image of Wisdom now uploaded at: