Amazing Flight of the Albatross – Part – I

Posted in Wildlife A-Z | March 18, 2010 | Comment Now

What comes to your mind when you think of a flying machine? Can it be the albatross which is designed to be one of the best flying species on the planet? The albatross is made up bone, feathers, muscle and wind, which give the bird its flying prowess. Watching the bird in full flight gives the impression as if it were propelled into the sky. The albatross is more of an art deco bird, which has striking patterns. It is known for its faithfulness and epic travels.

Parent albatrosses are known to fly for more than 10,000 miles to feed their chicks. They have the longest wings in the world, stretching up to 3.5 meters. These beauties can glide for hundreds of miles without flapping their wings. Besides crossing ocean basins, they have circumnavigated the globe. A 50-year-old albatross flies for an average of 6 million kilometers.

The albatross has been mentioned in S.T. Coleridge’s famous poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. It is unlikely that Coleridge saw an albatross. The poem gives us a vague description of the albatross.

I will not compare the albatross to anything. Rather, let us see the beauty of the birds in its entirety.

Just imagine what it means to be an albatross. You could be flying for millions of miles with clean, renewable, and zero-emission fuel. Albatrosses are amazing gliders. I let my eyes feast upon their flying prowess. They often lock their wings like switchblades, offering excellent gliding opportunities. They appear as if they sail upwards, harnessing the power of gravity. They catch the wind in their wings and travel in long undulations. While most birds struggle to tackle the wind, the albatross exploits it to its own advantage.

An albatross is different from a gull in terms of architecture and state of mind. The exquisite body of the bird is matched by a skillful brain. What happens if we swap the brains of the albatross and gull? Nothing much. Except that, we would never see the albatross in full action soaring in the sky. Gulls primarily inhabit the shores and are self-proclaimed monarchs of dock pilings. It is common for these beauties to cross an entire ocean in search for food. They touch the shores only during the mating season.

The bird’s walk on land is a treat to the eyes. Their waddle involves wagging of the head. They are born gliders and when they beat gravity to touch their sky, my heart almost skips a beat.

Coming back to comparisons, I can say that the albatross is graceful as an angel and tough as leather. There are nearly 24 species of the albatross. They hardly surf on land, and make the oceans their home. They seem to thrive in the windiest areas of the planet.

Part – II

Part  – III

Part – IV

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