BANGKOK -- Talk about a working mother.
A Christmas Island frigate bird named Lydia recently made a nonstop journey of more than 26 days and covering nearly 2,500 miles -- across Indonesian volcanoes and some of Asia's busiest shipping lanes -- in search of food for her baby. The trip, tracked with a global positioning device by scientists at Christmas Island National Park, is by far the longest known nonstop journey by one of these critically endangered seabirds.
Previously, the black-and-white scavengers with distinctive pink beaks and wingspans of up to 8 feet were known only to fly a few hundred miles from their nesting sites, staying away for just a few days at a time, officials said.
''It's a real revelation," said David James, coordinator of biodiversity monitoring for Christmas Island National Park, the birds' only known breeding ground. ''It was a long, nonstop journey [and] she crossed overland over volcanoes. Normally, you would expect the seabirds to fly over the sea."
Lydia's trip started Oct. 18 from Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean about 310 miles south of Indonesia's capital, Jakarta.
Leaving a chick in the care of her partner, Lydia headed south over open waters -- probably to steal fish from other seabirds, a common habit among frigate birds. She then circled back on Oct. 26 and flew between Indonesia's Java and Sumatra islands. From there, she headed across Borneo island on Nov. 9 before flying back over Java and returning on Nov. 14 to her nesting site, where she likely regurgitated a meal for her chick.