Birding Aus <>
Sun, 16 Mar 2003 10:48:00 +1000
Seabird Picture of the Month, June 2002:
photo and text by Chandler Robbins
What makes this picture of a Laysan Albatross and chick unusual is that
it was taken almost 50 years ago by Chan Robbins on Midway Atoll, and
the fact that this bird could still be alive today. As Chan related in
a recent newsletter for the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center: “My
news of the week is that while looking up band numbers of albatrosses
that I had recaptured on Midway Atoll in February, I discovered that
one of them was a Laysan Albatross I had initially banded in 1956.
This bird was incubating an egg when I banded it, indicating that it
was at least five years old at the time. I had replaced the worn band
in 1962, and other colleagues had replaced it again in 1985 and 1993.
When I gave this bird its 5th sequential band in February 2002 it was
brooding a healthy chick at the age of at least 51 years. This breaks
the longevity record for North American birds in the wild, the previous
record being for this same species at the age of 42 years 5 months.”
A Manx shearwater recently captured and re-banded in England was 50
years old, and still breeding. The oldest wild seabird ever found was a
royal albatross that nested in New Zealand and was named Grandma. The
bird was at least 53 years old when it went missing. According to the
Guinness Book of Animal Records, the highest ever reported age of a
bird is an unconfirmed 82 years for a male Siberian white crane. Some
members of the parrot family are thought to have hatched at the end of
the 19th century.
Chandler Robbins is a senior research biologist with the USGS Patuxent
Wildlife Research Center .
To learn more about other seabirds, browse the Seabird Flash Cards on
the Seabird Page of this website.
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