Wisdom – Air
Laysan Albatross, Kilauea Point NWR, Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i
watercolor on mounted paper, 20 x 30 inches
The oldest known banded bird in the wild is a Laysan Albatross named Wisdom. She is at least 66 years old. She albatross is a creature that for most of the year inhabits the space between air and water, yet once a year she must come to earth to nest, remarkably returning to where she was hatched to breed and raise her young. Albatrosses fly many miles over the open ocean where they are susceptible to entanglement in fishing lines and plastic ingestion. While on the ground they are vulnerable to predation by invasive species such as pigs and historically, man, who killed them for their feathers and the albumen in their eggs. In late 2018 Wisdom returned to Midway Atoll to successfully breed with her mate Akeakamai and lay one egg. The chick hatched in February 2019 at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Protected nesting habitats such as Midway have helped albatross populations recover from historic lows, yet the Laysan Albatross is still listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List.