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The oldest known wild bird in North America - a female albatross that's over 60 and has outlasted five tracking bands - is now a proud mother, U.S. officials announced.

"She looks immense," Bruce Peterjohn, head of the North American Bird Banding Program at the U.S. Geological Survey, said in a statement. "And she is now the oldest wild bird documented in the 90-year history" of the program.

The Laysan albatross, nicknamed Wisdom by researchers, was spotted a few weeks ago with her baby chick at breeding grounds on the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific Islands.

She was first banded in 1956 and probable has raised at least 30 chicks, Peterjohn said. Albatross lay only one egg a year, and then it takes much of the second year to hatch and raise the chick.

"Since adult albatross mate for life, with both parents raising the young, it makes one speculate if Wisdom has had the same partner all these years or not," the USGS said in its statement.

The service also anticipated that Wisdom has probably flown about 50,000 miles a year as an adult - or at least 2 to 3 million miles since she was first banded. Albatross scheme from the Pacific Islands to feeding grounds off western North America.

"To put it another way, that’s 4 to 6 trips from the Earth to the Moon and back again with plenty of miles to standby," the service stated.

Life isn't peaceful for albatross, however. Of 21 species, 19 are threatened with extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Threats include: lead paint poisoning; accidentally being hooked on fishing lines; egg-eating rats and feral cats; and plastic trash in the seas.

"The birds swallow large amounts of marine debris," the USGS said, "by some estimates 5 tons of plastic are mistakenly fed to albatross chicks each year by their parents. Although the plastic may not kill the chicks directly, it reduces their food intake, which leads to dehydration and most likely lessens their chance of endurance."

Albatross might not be the oldest birds around - parrots in custody can live several decades longer - but, given those obstacles in the wild, the fact that Wisdom is still an active mom is quite special.

"To know that she can still effectively raise young at age 60-plus," said Peterjohn, "that is beyond words."
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