Running on the Water

Birds run­ning on water? Well, yes, a num­ber of birds do, pelag­ic birds that live on the oceans sur­face where they feed on plank­ton, fish, – and unfor­tu­nate­ly these days – bits of plas­tic. The Black-foot­ed Alba­tross is one such; its sev­en-foot wings that let it soar effort­less­ly for hours over the ocean are too long to flap on take-off to get air­borne.

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Albatross on teh surfaceSo they spread their wings wide and paddle, run actually, across the surface until the wind under their angled wings is strong enough to lift them up to where they can catch an oncoming breeze to lift them further.  Something like you used to do as a kid; running down the beach with a kite, trying to get up enough speed to launch it. (OK, some of us still do it. Sorry.)

Albatross taking offAnd He is Off!

Any­way, the birds are quite a sight, legs stretched wide, mov­ing faster and faster into what lift­ing breeze there is, until it sup­ports them and they rise up a few feet, where they are once again free to soar on the sup­port­ing air.

Albatross running on the waterAlbatross running on the waterAlbatross running on the waterAlbatross running on the waterAnd he’s off!

No, the Alba­tross­es  don’t build nests or lay eggs on the water, they find a sandy shore where they can lay their sin­gle egg for the sea­son.

It isn’t only pelag­ic seabirds that run on the water to get enough speed to take off, Cor­morants do also. Here is one, pad­dling furi­ous­ly, his wings slap­ping the water with every beat of his wings.

Cormorant taking off

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