Thursday, August 13, 2015

Magnificent Frigatebird

Frigatebirds soar over the oceans. They rarely flap their wings. They are the only birds with fused pectoral girdles, giving them further rigidity for soaring. They are often called “Man-o’-war Birds” due to their habit of harassing and robbing other seabirds. They, however, capture most of their prey by snatching fish or squid from the ocean surface (Diamond and Schreiber 2002). This species lacks waterproof plumage and, consequently, is rarely seen on the water. Because of their short legs, they never walk or swim.

Magnificent Frigatebirds breed throughout the Caribbean and the coasts of Central and South America.  The closest breeding location for this frigatebird, which we saw on Sanibel Island, Florida, is probably the Dry Tortugas at the end of the Florida Keys. Frigatebirds are occasionally blown far inland by hurricanes. Erika and I once witnessed several frigatebirds over Baton Rouge after a hurricane in the 1970s. These birds apparently soar in front of storms and are accidental in Alaska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and eastern Canadian provinces. 

Notice the deflated, red throat pouch and long, but closed tail feathers.

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