Seabird Species Can Fly for Two Months without Rest

September 6, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. altitude / ˈæl tɪˌtud / (n.) – height or vertical distance from sea level
Example: Planes reach an altitude of 36,000 feet.

2. expend / ɪkˈspɛnd / (v.) – to use or consume something
Example: Bears sleep throughout winter to avoid expending too much energy.

3. cover / ˈkʌv ər / (v.) – to travel a certain distance
Example: The mountaineers covered ten kilometers before stopping to rest.

4. exhaustion / ɪgˈzɔs tʃən / (n.) – state of being extremely tired
Example: They only felt their exhaustion after the trip.

5. current / ˈkɜr ənt / (n.) – the constant movement of air or water
Example: It’s difficult to swim against the river’s current.


Read the text below.
A new study has found that a seabird species called the great frigate [FRIG-it] bird can fly for two months straight without landing on any surface.

A team of scientists from the French National Center for Scientific Research monitored great frigate birds for their two-year study. The team attached transmitters onto the wings of some birds. These transmitters gathered data, such as the birds’ location and altitude, which helped the researchers track their flight patterns. The transmitters also recorded the birds’ heart rate and flight speed, which allowed researchers to find out how much energy the birds expended.

The data revealed that the birds spent several weeks flying over the ocean without rest. Frigate birds cannot land on the water’s surface because their feathers are not waterproof. The birds were found to cover up to 250 miles in one day. The scientists found out that the birds avoid exhaustion by not flapping their wings continuously. Instead, they spread their wings wide open to ride the air currents over the ocean.

Adult frigate birds have a wingspan of more than seven feet, which allows them to ride air currents easily. The scientists observed that the flight pattern of frigate birds is highly dependent upon these currents, suggesting that changes in wind patterns caused by climate change may also affect the birds’ flight routes.

Another study shows that climate change has also affected the lives of other seabird species. A research published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE revealed that several species are threatened by intensifying sea storms and rising sea levels caused by global warming.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What is the importance of studying how climate change affects animals?
·         What do you think will happen if seabird populations decline? Discuss your answer.

Discussion B

·         What is the importance of conserving one’s energy? Explain.
·         In what ways can people conserve their energy for better use?

September 6, 2016