Paragliding pūtangitangi

Yesterday I was on a farm in the Canterbury (New Zealand) hill country for work. At one point we were high up on a steep hillside. There was a little bit of a breeze coming up from the valley. All of a sudden we heard a roaring, rushing sound coming from further up the slope, which my mind automatically interpreted as a passing car. That was clearly nonsense as we were in the middle of nowhere. We soon discovered what was making the sound though. The next second, a pūtangitangi (Tadorna variegata, the paradise shelduck) came absolutely tearing down the hillside into the valley, its wings held downcurved like a paraglider, the rushing sound following it all the way. It was such a bizarre, awesome experience. Have you ever experienced anything like it?


The Common Nighthawk does what I call “boom-swoops.” It will swoop in a “U”-shaped path, and at the bottom of the “U” there will be a sound similar to what you might know as a bull-roarer – an apt comparison, since the sound is made by the wind rushing over its stiff flight feathers, much the way a bull-roarer makes its noise. This is part of its courtship display.

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