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Albatross

Al′batross

The largest of webfooted birds, called by sailors the Cape Sheep, from its frequenting the Cape of Good Hope. It gorges itself, and then sits motionless upon the waves. It is said to sleep in the air, because its flight is a gliding without any apparent motion of its long wings. Sailors say it is fatal to shoot an albatross. Coleridge's Ancient Mariner is founded on this superstition.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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