Friday, April 11, 2014

"I just flew in..."

Nope... I didn't go anywhere.  I'm referring to  that old joke...

"I just flew in from (somewhere far away), and boy are my arms tired."

So now you're probably thinking  - 'what made Laurie think of that old joke, especially if she didn't go anywhere?'

I recently came across some interesting information about a bird called a frigatebird.  I've never seen one and I'm not sure I've even heard of them before, but that's not much of a surprise, as they are found in the tropics, and I am not.

The more I read about these frigatebirds, the more interested I became.  There are a few
different species... including the Great Frigatebird, and the Lesser Frigatebird.

Oh dear.  You have to have a lot of sympathy for something that from the moment it's born... it's the lesser one.  But, lest the Great Frigatebird get too big of a head, there's another species named the Magnificent Frigatebird.  Rather sad that merely being great, is not enough.  While I'm not really much of a bird person, having looked at the picture of the Magnificent Frigatebird I do have to admit that it's hard to disagree with its name.

Getting back to where you can find frigatebirds... it's actually more accurate to say that they're found over the tropics, rather than in the tropics.  They're most frequently seen in the air, and one of their favorite pastimes is to ride warm updrafts.  While you might be thinking that they must be lazy...  don't be too quick or too harsh in your judgment.  You see, even though these birds (Magnificent, Lesser, and everything in between), live in the tropics, surrounded by lots of water... and even though fish constitute much of their diet... frigatebirds can't swim and they can't take off from the surface of the water.  In fact, frigatebirds can't take off from a flat surface at all, and they don't even walk very well.  Instead, they are truly aerial creatures... and have been known to stay aloft for as much a week.  Warm updrafts or not, this sounds like a lot of work.  And they're not little birds.  Frigatebirds are actually related to pelicans, and typically have a wingspan of 7-7 1/2 feet.  Wow, that's taller than -- well, taller than anyone I know.

And now you see why - when I heard about these creatures, I thought of that old joke.  I imagine the frigatebird version goes something like:

"I've been flying around for a week now, and boy are my wings tired."

Just thinking about this, makes me thirsty.  Fortunately, I hear the kettle whistling, so I'm off for some tea.


  1. So if they can't take off from the water and can't take off from a flat surface, does this mean that once they land they're forever grounded? And since they don't walk very well, seems like that would be a lousy life even if their name say they (or some of them) are magnificent!

  2. Magnificent apparently isn't all its cracked up to be.

  3. Then there is the swift which is believed not to touch down from leaving the nest till it breeds. I think that nearly two years beats your week or two. And swifts are magnificent aerobats. When I say aerobat, they are not in the bat family, they are Apus Apus. And when I say Apus Apus, they are not related to chimps or gorillas or anything like that. Taxonomy isn't my thing.