Birds

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Birds

Post by dean on Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:03 am

LA VENTANA BIRDS #7: The large, thin-winged, fork-tailed, prehistoric-looking,  mostly-black bird that soars effortlessly along the bluffs of La Ventana is the Magnificent Frigatebird. These common tropical seabirds, one of five species worldwide, are known locally as  Fragatas. Because they make their living  attacking other seabirds and snatching up food they force them to disgorge, they are also called Pirate Birds. The adult male is black with a red pouch under its bill which it puffs into a bright-red orb when courting females. Chicks are almost pure white, while females and juveniles are black with white heads and breasts. They all nest in colonies on the islands in the Gulf. They never land on water, always catching or stealing food in flight, and can spend more than 24 hours on the wing and cover better than 200 kms before landing. Friends related a fascinating story about Frigates. On a panga trip back from Cerralvo, the captain had spotted a pod of  a few hundred dolphin encircling a school of fish. He closed in on them to allow a better view. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, a couple dozen Frigates began diving at the frenzy of trapped fish, pulling up just before entering the water, and making off with a fish. A few dolphin leaped into the air as if to block the thieves from stealing from their catch. You can watch the antics of these birds on the beach next to Las Palmas Restaurant in El Sargento any time fishermen are there cleaning their catch; or use binoculars to watch for them roosting on the rigging of shrimp boats, hoping to share in some of the vessels bycatch.  Possibly the best location for Frigate-watching is from the bluffs above the shoreline; from there you will get a spectacular eye-level view as these big birds soar by on seven-foot wingspans. After a day of fishing around the bay, our local Frigates begin their afternoon flight north towards Las Cruces; there they might roost on cliffs where predators cannot get to them. For more on these birds:  http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/magnificent_frigatebird/id.    XRanger Gary


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dean

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