Saturday, February 11, 2012
The Pirate of the skies
In the age-of sail, a sea captain had to anticipate changes in weather patterns. He must read the wind and waves, cloud formations and currents, but also the behaviour of the birds which provided clues to the approaching weather fronts.
The MAN ’O WAR or FRIGATE bird is one such indicator. Great flocks of frigates, flying towards land, herald an approaching storm at sea. In some places they are called ‘weather birds’.
The FRIGATE BIRDS’s name relates to both its speed and its piratical habits of attacking and robbing other seabirds. It swoops, catches and shakes its prey, stealing the food the captive birds disgorge.
Recognised by its broad 7ft wingspan and long forked tail, the male displays the distinctive scarlet pouch that is inflated during the breeding season.