[Note: Clicking on underlined text opens a YouTube video.]
While it is true that Wisdom (the world’s oldest known wild banded bird) has not been sighted recently, her chick from 2011, identified by the leg band number N333, has been sighted raising a chick of its own! When N333 first piped his beak into the world his mother Wisdom was at least 59 years old.
First sighted by Sarah Youngren and Dan Rapp in December, N333 (believed to be a male due to its larger bill size) is currently busy taking turns with his mate as they feed and care for Wisdom’s “grandchick”. Sighting N333 on a nest was a long shot because the nest is not located in a study plot and is approximately 176 yards from Wisdom’s nest site near a path to North Beach.
What makes this discovery particularly extraordinary is because N333 as a young chick miraculously survived the March 2011 tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.1 earthquake off the northeastern coast of Japan. A massive ocean swell surged across the Pacific that day eventually inundating with water and debris most of Eastern Island and parts of Sand Island killing an estimated 110,000 albatross chicks that were too young to fly and two thousand adults. It was impossible to get a count of Bonin petrels as they were buried by debris along with other wildlife. For complete story and visuals visit: friendsofmidway.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=8732&action=edit
When Wisdom returned to Midway Atoll to feed her chick on March 20, 2011, it was a welcomed sigh of relief amidst the devastation. N333 also survived in part due to the location of Wisdom’s nest site. The out-planting of native plant species has created a protective dune barrier that guards against rising sea swells from flooding the northern side of Sand Island. Wisdom’s nest site is located just inland of this sand dune line. It is interesting to note that N333 has been previously sighted by Wildlife Biologist Jon Plissner each spring from 2018 through 2021 hanging out just a few feet from his parents’ nest.
N333 certainly appears to be resilient and strong just like his mother. If hope is alive and well in the wildlife community this is surely a sign!