Wisdom the Albatross Collection

About Wisdom the Albatross 


  • Banded in 1956 (when she was at least 5 years old), Wisdom the Albatross is considered to be the world's oldest living bird. When she was born 69 years ago, John F. Kennedy was President!


  • An albatross is a large flying seabird. All 22 species of Albatross are vulnerable to extinction, with 3 species listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. Wisdom is a Laysan albatross. 


  • Before Wisdom's miraculous life was documented, the estimated lifespan of a Laysan Albatross was 12 to 40 years.

 Wisdom the Albatross with egg

Photo Credit: Kiah Walker / USFWS


  • Wisdom is estimated to have raised at least 35 chicks over her lifetime. With her most recent chick hatching in 2018. 


  • Wisdom flies about 50,000 miles each year, meaning she has flown at least 2 to 3 million miles since she was first banded (that's the equivalent of 4 to 6 trips from the Earth to the Moon and back!).


  • “It is beyond words to describe the amazing accomplishments of this wonderful bird... If she were human, she would be eligible for Medicare in a couple years, yet she is still regularly raising young and annually circumnavigating the Pacific Ocean. Simply incredible.” - 

    Bruce Peterjohn, chief of the North American Bird Banding Program at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD.


  • “Everyone continues to be inspired by Wisdom as a symbol of hope for her species”- Doug Staller, the Fish and Wildlife Service Superintendent for the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument 


About the Midway Atoll NWR

Albatross at Midway Atoll

Photo Credit: Daniel Clark / USFWS 


  • The Midway Atoll is a remote, northwest Hawaiian island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The US Navy famously defended the Atoll in 1942, during WWII, at the Battle of Midway. 


  • Wisdom, along with over a million other Albatross, use the Midway Atoll as a migratory breeding colony. 


  • Midway Atoll is situated on a massive ocean current that transports an unthinkable amount of garbage to and around the refuge. In 2016, an 8-day cleanup effort at Midway led to the removal of over 15,000 pounds of trash.


  • Albatross feed along the surface of the ocean, in the process they end up swallowing floating garbage (mostly plastic), which they then inadvertently feed to their chicks. 


Albatross plastic 

Photo Credit: Claire Fackler / NOAA


  • Biologists believe 5 tons of plastic are fed to Albatross chicks at Midway each year. Cigarette lighters, bottle caps, and fishing line are some of the most common sources.


  • Consumption of plastic disrupts the chick's ability to digest the nutrients it needs to survive. While sharp debris can slice their stomach and intestines. 


  • At the end of the fledgling season, when all the Albatross depart, the island is scattered with garbage and plastic-filled chick corpses. 


Midway Atoll

Photo Credit: NOAA


Aim of the Wisdom the Albatross Collection


  • To help in the fight to sustain this species, Kirtlandii will be donating $1 per Widsom the Albatross Collection item sold on kirtlandii.com, 

    to Friends of the Midway Atoll (FOMA), a non-profit organization committed to preserving, protecting and restoring the biological diversity and historic resources of Midway Atoll







 Main Photo Credit: Kiah Walker / USFWS