Bird’s ID – Magnificent Frigatebird

Magnificent Frigatebird


The Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) is a seabird of the frigatebird family Fregatidae. It is the largest species of frigatebird. It occurs over tropical and subtropical waters off America, between northern Mexico and norhern Peru on the Pacific coast and between Florida and southern Brazil along the Atlantic coast. There are also populations on the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific and the Cape Verde islands in the Atlantic.

The magnificent frigatebird is a large, lightly built seabird with brownish-black plumage, long narrow wings and a deeply forked tail. The male has a striking red gular sac which it inflates to attract a mate. The female is slightly larger than the male and has a white breast and belly. Frigatebirds feed on fish taken in flight from the ocean’s surface (often flying fish), and sometimes indulge in kleptoparasitism, harassing other birds to force them to regurgitate their food.

The magnificent frigatebird is the largest species of frigatebird. It measures 89–114 cm (35–45 in) in length, has a wingspan of 2.17–2.44 m (7.1–8.0 ft) and weighs 1.1–1.59 kilograms (2.4–3.5 lb). Males are all-black with a scarlet throat pouch that is inflated like a balloon in the breeding season. Although the feathers are black, the scapular feathers produce a purple iridescence when they reflect sunlight, in contrast to the male great frigatebird’s green sheen. Females are black, but have a white breast and lower neck sides, a brown band on the wings, and a blue eye-ring that is diagnostic of the female of the species. Immature birds have a white head and underparts.

The magnificent frigatebird is silent in flight, but makes various rattling sounds at its nest.

It spends days and nights on the wing, with an average ground speed of 10 km/h (6.2 mph), covering up to 223 km (139 mi) before landing. They alternately climb in thermals, to altitudes occasionally as high as 2,500 m (8,200 ft), and descend to near the sea surface. The only other bird known to spend days and nights on the wing is the common swift.


Photo Gallery



© HJ Ruiz – Avian101

18 thoughts on “Bird’s ID – Magnificent Frigatebird

    • They are incredible birds, Mother Nature excelled on the design. I was hoping that you read this post. Thank you, Chris. 🙂

      • I always read and enjoy your posts, HJ! One thing I noticed on your first photo of the two frigatebirds in flight together is that there is an odd turquoise tinge around them. It might be my screen, but you might want to check.

      • Yes, I’m aware of that. this shot is part of a series of shots, the birds were fighting for the fish high in the air. I picked this picture because it showed the fish, unfortunately, the had the sun behind. Thanks! 🙂

  1. Pingback: Bird’s ID – Magnificent Frigatebird | H.J. Ruiz – Avian101 – Wolf's Birding and Bonsai Blog

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