Flies Backwards


This week’s photo, taken October 8, 2017 on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos, Ecuador, features an immature MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD stretching its wings.

From the title of this post, you might think I’m talking about a hummingbird, which can indeed fly backwards. However, a MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD can also fly backwards, and if I didn’t see it for myself at the Puerto Ayora fish market on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos, then I probably wouldn’t believe it.

Thanks to its lightweight body, the frigatebird maneuvers incredibly well in the air, despite its very long wings (or perhaps because of them). A frigatebird can fly through the fish market, overshoot a tasty piece of fish on the counter, stop and hover momentarily, and then actually back up in mid-air by changing the angle of its wings and increasing the thrust of its wingbeats. Then, it shifts into forward flight again, reaches down with its long bill and snatches the snack left on the counter – all without ever touching the ground.

Wow. It’s amazing what some birds will do for food.

Yes, it’s that time of year to remind you that my bird photos make lovely holiday cards or gifts, phone cases and prints: http://joe-sweeney.fineartamerica.com


About Joe Sweeney

I photograph birds to share the beauty and wonder I find in nature.
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