As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Magnificent frigate bird may face bleak future





Magnificent frigate birds breed in only one place in Florida.

From time to time, beachgoers along Brevard and Volusia may look high in the sky and spot a very large bird with a distinctive "V" in each wing and a split tail.

It's an aerial virtuoso, the magnificent frigate bird, and Florida expert Ken Meyer fears they are in for tough times unless the species can expand where it breeds and thrives.

"They are declining in population," he said, explaining there are several sources of trouble for the birds, including the disappearance of fish that they hunt.

Already under assault, their single, low-lying nesting site in Florida is vulnerable to drowning because of "climate change and sea-level rise," Meyer said.

Frigate birds have wingspans of more than 7 feet and spend their lives soaring over coastlines and oceans in voyages that last days and nights without touching land. 

Their feathers are not waterproofed with a coat of oil, as with many other birds, and landing on ocean waters can be lethal.

Despite their size, they are agile enough to snatch flying fish in midflight and quick enough to harass gulls into surrendering fish they had caught.

Florida has a small population of frigate birds that nests each year; their home is a group of islands at the end of the Florida Keys called the Dry Tortugas.

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