After the sixth decade of life, who would have thought giving birth is still an option? For this 65-year-old Laysan albatross, however, motherhood is still her thing. Wisdom, the oldest known bird in the wild, hatches what could be her 40th chick, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said.

Baby Kūkini, a Hawaiian term for "messenger", was seen cracking out of its shell on Feb. 1 at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in Hawaii. Gooo, the hatchling's father, served on incubation duty for more than two weeks while waiting for Wisdom to return from hunting and gathering food for Kūkini.

When Wisdom hatched a chick in 2013, it already astonished scientists. Now, she did it again and at an older age. Like other birds, albatrosses are thought to be infertile when they reach old age, but Wisdom defied this belief and proved that the species can be a mother, no matter how old it is.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, albatrosses usually live up to 60 years. These birds attain sexual maturity at about 5 years old, but usually breed when they are 7 to 10 years old.

Laysan albatrosses (Phoebastria immutabilis) face several threats to their survival. Bycatch poses the biggest threat to this species. When they hunt for fish, they dive for the bait, and sometimes they get entangled on the hook then drown.

In 2001, an analysis estimated that about 5,000 to 18,000 Laysan albatrosses are killed because of pelagic longliners in the North Pacific. In terms of nesting grounds, invasive species pose threats to the eggs and hatchlings, too.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources lists Laysan albatrosses as near threatened species. Aside from bycatch, other threats include organochlorine contamination, plastic ingestion, lead poisoning, and human disturbance.

Like humans, older birds experience weakness and they do not have the same endurance as when they were younger. This poses a threat to their health, especially when they go hunting. Wisdom, is obliged to hunt food for her hatchling and in the process, since she is not as strong as she was before, might face tremendous threats in the environment.

Photo: USFWS - Pacific Region | Flickr

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