Wisdom, a 64-year-old albatross that was tagged by scientists in 1956, is the oldest known bird to still be laying eggs.
Wisdom’s new egg was spotted over the weekend at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
The 64-year-old albatross was first tagged in 1956 and has raised at least 36 chicks since then.
Refuge staff said they were humbled and delighted to see her return.
Dan Clark, manager, said: “We are a part of the fate of Wisdom and it is gratifying to see her return because of the decades of hard work conducted to manage and protect albatross nesting habitat.”
Laysan albatrosses typically lay an egg a year, spending six months rearing and feeding their young.
— US Fish and Wildlife (@USFWS) November 30, 2015
They are giants of the sky, with a seven-foot wingspan, helping them forage hundreds of miles out to sea.
That means that over her lifetime Wisdom may travelled as much as six million ocean miles.
For now though she is expected to stay close to the refuge, which is about 1500 miles north-west of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean.
“Wisdom left soon after mating but we expect her back any day now to lay her egg,” said Bret Wolfe, deputy refuge manager. “It is very humbling to think that she has been visiting Midway for at least 64 years.
“Navy sailors and their families likely walked by her not knowing she could possibly be rearing a chick over 50 years later.”
Her return is a welcome morale boost at a time when seabird populations have dropped by 70% since the 1950s, when Wisdom was first tagged.
Some 19 out of 21 albatross species are threatened with extinction. Many are affected badly by pollution, accidentally feeding bits of plastic to their young.
Although Wisdom is the oldest tracked bird in the wild, parrots can live into their 80s in captivity.