Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Giant Albatross

The albatross has the longest wingspan of any bird — up to 11 feet. This, and the fact that it can weigh up to 22 pounds, makes it among the largest of flying birds. They can also live for up to 50 years, which is very rare for a bird.

The albatross has been know as a symbol of misery and burden for centuries, due to its significant role in the poem "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." A ship driven off course is lead out of the Antarctic by an albatross, who is then shot by one of the sailors. Afterwards, the ships wanders into uncharted territory, where it stops moving. The angry crew forces the sailor who shot the albatross to wear it around his neck to "illustrate the burden he must suffer for killing it."

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