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Dec 18, 2008 | by Kevin Loughlin

Magnificent FrigatebirdI offer a lot of presentations to birding clubs, camera clubs and schools. Throughout my programs I accept questions from my audience. Adults typically ask the “expected” questions. “What time of year is best for birding there? How many species do you see? Etc.” However, kids often have great, inquisitive statements for which I am sometimes not prepared.

Yesterday I was doing a presentation on the Galapagos Islands for some first through third grade students in Somers Point, NJ. I showed them images of the male Magnificent Frigatebirds with their throat sacks inflated… like large balloons hanging from their bills. As I talked about these odd birds and their propensity for stealing fish from other birds, I explained that although they can catch fish swimming close to the surface of the ocean, these birds cannot dive into the water for deeper fish as they cannot swim. In fact, they cannot even get wet as they are not “waterproof” like most other seabirds. If they go into the water they will drown.
During my explanation, one of the kids interjected with this bit of wisdom for which I had no answer… “Why would they drown? Couldn’t they blow up their balloon and float?”

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