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Nauru - Frigate Bird
|Copyright © Jocelyn Carlin 2001|
| f there was to be a tourism industry in Nauru it would be centered around the Frigate Bird. This is unlikely, but visitors could be taken to see an Itea, the place where wild Frigate birds are tamed. In a traditional game that requires skills handed down along privileged lines, wild birds are caught. The Itea is a wooden frame where tamed birds are tied, they’re delicately prodded with a rod while being fed to encourage wing flapping. Other tame birds, much like homing pigeons, are out at sea catching fish. On their way home they'll attract wild birds that fly with them and it is hoped they’ll bring the birds low and close enough to the game players on land throwing fish, who, at precisely the right moment will toss a sling with a weight at one end. The sling will wrap itself around the wild bird and bring it down usually into the sea. It’s quickly liberated from the sling but the wings are tied. There’s a majesty in the procedure and a reverence for the bird somewhere between an esteemed pet and a deity. They're never killed or eaten. Competitions, though rare now, used to be a national sport unique to the Nauruans, but as one drives 21 kilometres around the island one can still see itea and the people who uphold the tradition.|
All photographs Copyright © Jocelyn Carlin.
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