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Posted by: atowhee | December 7, 2018

OLD AGE AND WISDOM CAN GO TOGETHER

“Wisdom,” the female Laysan Albatross has just laid another egg.  The wonder: we know she is at least 68 years old.  Could be drawing social security and using medicare if she were an American citizen.  Regardless of where she lives, she gets respect from birders around world.  Midway, where she nests annually, is an American territory, BTW.

An albatross only lays one egg per year.  The adult male may fly as far as California or Oregon coastal waters to fish, sometimes making a two-week long commute.  Upon return to Midway the hunter regurgitates fish oil for mate and chick.

The Laysan is not a particularly large albatross.  Wingspan over 6 feet, body about 30 inches long.  But we now know they can fly while asleep, one half of the brain continues to function so a commute to fishing grounds of thousands of miles is not as spectacular when you calculate 24 hours of flight, rather than just a typical human working day of 10-12 hours. (I am so old I can remember working an eight-hour day, longer hours meant overtime pay.  Today that would be unheard of nearly anywhere in the world of extreme capitalism where we all live.)

This albatross would weigh between 6 and seven pounds, plenty of weight in muscle and feathers.  The species can often be seen on pelagic trips off the Oregon and California coast if you venture far enough out.  The more common albatross in this area is the Black-footed, a mostly dark feathered bird and slightly larger than the Laysan. THe black-footed also nests in the central Pacific.

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