effortlessness

Frigate birds and effortlessness

Thanks again to Jonathan Scheinbart for bringing in an article about frigate birds and their amazing demonstration of the sustainability of effortlessness, the practical value of connecting responsively and with great awareness to the natural world, and the importance of staying relaxed.

Frigate birds have been found to stay aloft for 63 days at a time, may go 40 miles without flapping their wings, they soar as high as 12,000 feet (the
Post article says 2,000, but look around at the research, and you'll see the reports are much higher: 2.5 miles!), and spend only 10% of their time hunting for (or stealing) food. Their heart rates remain low—equivalent to a slow walking effort for us—except when they are hunting. They can sleep, it's surmised, as they are riding an updraft. They are masters of effortlessness and efficiency.

They spend their 40-year low-effort lives masterfully optimizing their responsivity and connection with their environment. By sticking to the bottoms, or sometimes flying
inside, of clouds, they position themselves to be carried on warm, spiraling updrafts to those amazing heights, and have little need for flapping their wings. Slipping out of these updrafts they can glide downward towards the ocean, where they wait for their food to come to them: a jumping fish trying to escape a hunting dolphin or tuna, for example.

One frigate, while facing a nesting booby, and
without touching the other bird, stimulated its crop by facing it and making gentle oscillating head movements, until the booby's mouth reflexively opened. The frigate then deftly reaches in with its beak and pulls the entire fish from the crop! But the game is not over….watch here!

Mid-flight, a frigate will use its beak to
latch onto the legs of a bird that's just caught a fish, and will stay "stuck" to it, staying attached until the fish is let go, at which point the frigate may snatch the fish as it's falling back to the sea or sometimes, snatch the fish from just below the surface. (Frigates lack oil on their feathers and cannot safely tough their bodies to the water, as most ocean-going birds can.)

Thus, frigates are also masters of such T'ai Chi principles as "seizing the moment and the opportunity," "sticking" and "letting go of the self to follow others" (other birds, dolphins, updrafts and clouds). I watched several interesting clips of frigate birds online, and saw so many fascinating behaviors and strategies!

Once again, nature is the teacher.


The Washington Post article
The NPR article