|A cloud of frigatebirds over North Beach|
Dozens of frigatebirds glide past our house joining the hundreds that are arriving from all directions. They enter the thermal spiral, sliding in place without interrupting the flight pattern of others - all playing, soaring in the updraft. I lean backwards, craning my neck into an uncomfortable position, trying to count the birds. It's an impossible task with hundreds more joining in. The spiral looks to contain a thousand or more black birds, soaring, gliding, spinning upward until they are mere specks in the sky.
|3 feet tall, and a wingspan of up to 7 feet|
Apparently it works - the females think they are quite handsome. The pair will remain monogamous for the season. Both parents share in feeding the one or two chicks for the first three months. Then the chicks will stay another eight months with the mother, noisily demanding to be fed even though they are nearly as big as the parent.
|Coordinated flight paths over Ray carcas, discarded in surf.|
When food is plentiful, the birds aren't aggressive with each other. We have seen them coordinate their flight paths - flying in an orderly pattern from right to left over a ray carcass, picking off bits of meat. Not squabbling, but cooperating. All of them feasting.
|Flying in a pattern, right to left. Everyone eats!|
Unfortunately the two squabbling birds had lost interest in the hapless fish, and had moved on to another battle.
Peace returns when the updrafts are perfect, and another 'fly-in' begins.
The birds once again start drifting past, slowly gaining elevation.
Heading up, up and away. Like Peter Pan and Wendy.