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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

BirdNote: Gliding with Tropicbirds

Air Date: Week of August 22, 2014

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

White-tailed Tropicbird (Photo: Budak)

Above the sun-baked beaches of the Hawaiian islands, glistening white Tropicbirds float, with their long tail feathers streaming out behind them, as Mary McCann reports in today's BirdNote®‭.

Transcript

CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth, I'm Steve Curwood.

[BIRD NOTE® THEME]

CURWOOD: And now let's head to the sun-soaked beaches of Hawaii for today's BirdNote®.
Here's Mary McCann.

MCCANN: "Tropicbird." The name alone evokes a warm breeze and a place where green islands dot a shimmering blue ocean.

[MUSIC: “Aloha Wau la Oe” by P. Cosma. Performed by the Ho’opi’i Brothers, from “Aloha From Maui”: Mountain Apple Company: 1999]

MCCANN: Picture a streamlined, sparkling white seabird, with a red spear of a bill and luxuriantly long tail-streamers. With the strong, direct flight of a falcon, a tropicbird can catch a flying fish on the wing, or plunge like an arrow into the sea and—with its serrated bill—capture a squid.


Red-tailed Tropicbird in flight (Photo: Matt Knoth)

[RED-TAILED TROPICBIRD VOCALS]

MCCANN: Birds of such elegant natural design seem creatures of myth. And in fact, their scientific name links directly to Greek mythology, as tropicbirds belong to the genus Phaeton. Phaeton, the son of Apollo, hurtled through the sky in the chariot of the sun, only to plunge into the River Eridanus.

Myth, sun, and sea – there’s that warm ocean breeze again.

[MUSIC: “Aloha Wau la Oe” by P. Cosma. Performed by the Ho’opi’i Brothers, from “Aloha From Maui”: Mountain Apple Company: 1999]


Red-tailed Tropicbird (Photo: Scott Henderson)

Maybe it’s time for a trip to Hawaii. Visit the island of Kauai, and you can easily see one of these near-mythical birds, its glistening white form floating in the air just beyond a sea cliff’s edge. Tropicbirds have ranged through most of the tropical latitudes of the world’s oceans for 60 million years.

I’m Mary McCann

CURWOOD: There are pictures of these magnificent birds at our website, loe.org.

 

Links

Check out this episode of BirdNote on their website

Read more about tropicbirds

 

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