A female frigatebird soars in flight. By Mark Putney
The magnificent frigatebird is a large, mostly black bird that lives near the ocean in temperate and tropical regions of North America. Frigatebirds have a large wingspan that allows them to fly for long periods of time without much effort.
Frigatebirds eat fish and other creatures from the ocean, but they almost never land on water; if they did, their feathers would get wet and their long wings would make it very difficult to take off again.
Adult frigatebirds have a body that is about 40 inches long, and a wingspan that is around 90 inches long! Female frigatebirds are black with white markings on their chest, while male frigatebirds are all black with a red sac on their throat that they inflate to impress females during mating season.
After mating, the pair builds a nest on land that is around 10 to 15 feet in diameter. The female lays one egg. After the egg hatches, she take care of her chick and feeds it for up to one year.
Frigatebirds often fish and hunt for themselves. They eat mostly fish, but they will also eat jellyfish, crabs, squid, and sometimes small sea turtles. If a frigatebird sees another bird with food, the frigatebird will sometimes fly close to that bird and harass it, trying to get it to drop its food.
If this happens, the frigatebird will swoop low and take the food for itself. The magnificent frigatebird is sometimes called the Man o’ War bird or the Pirate bird because of this behavior.
A male frigatebird inflates his red throat sac in a mating display. By Maros Mraz
A frigatebird chick. By Dick Daniels
The above links, plus:
Peterson, Rogery T. Peterson Field Guide to Birds of North America. Houghton Mifflin Company: New York, 2008.
The World Atlas of Birds. Gramercy Books: New York, 2006.