Why is the frigatebird noteworthy?

The frigatebird is an extraordinary bird. It is a sea-faring bird but has a major disadvantage. Its feathers are not waterproof. It would drown if it landed on the water. So it has developed a method to stay aloft while flying over the sea for weeks at a stretch without touching down!

It makes use of the warm air currents that rise up from the ocean which form cumulus clouds. It is the only bird that deliberately flies through these clouds. It does this to make use of the updraft of air currents in the cumulus clouds which help it to fly using minimum effort.

When it needs a meal, instead of swooping down to the ocean to catch fish, it bullies other birds into dropping their catch and neatly steals it mid-air! This is why these birds are also called the pirates of the sky! In appearance too they look somewhat like villains. The frigate bird has sleek black feathers, a long hooked bill and a deeply forked tail. The male adult also sports a bright red throat pouch – rather like a red scarf on a swashbuckling pirate!

It has an 8-foot wingspan and has the largest wing surface area compared to its body weight, of any bird. What this means is that the frigate bird’s wings can make the maximum use of ocean currents and fly for longer periods of time. It thus flies higher and faster than any other sea bird. It reaches a top speed of 153 km/h during flight and soars well above 4000 m above sea level! This altitude is unbelievably high for a seafaring bird.

There are 5 species of frigatebirds currently in the world, of which 2 species are critically endangered, while 3 species are widespread (listed as Least Concern).

Picture Credit : Google

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