Illustrator Christina Mattison Ebert shares depictions and information on coastal birds
American poet James Russell Lowell once wrote, “There is nothing so desperately monotonous as the sea, and I no longer wonder at the cruelty of pirates.”
Able to coast over the ocean for many miles with nary the flap of a wing, few other bird species understand maritime monotony better — or are as primed to swipe another seabird’s hard-earned meal — than the Magnificent frigatebird.
Interestingly, these ocean raiders’ feathers aren’t waterproof, so they must be sure to pursue their pirated food mid-air and grab it before it hits the water. In fact, young Magnificent frigatebirds practice their future pillaging technique by stealing sticks from each other and grabbing them before they land in the water.
FUN FACT: The male Magnificent frigatebird’s distinctive red neck pouch is called a gular, and the bird inflates it during breeding season to attract a mate.