Great Frigate Bird
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|GREAT FRIGATE BIRD|
The Great Frigate Bird resembles a huge blackbird that hovers lazily in the sky. Frigate birds belong to the family Fregatidae, which contains five species world-wide. In the Galapagos there are two species: the Great Frigate bird and the Magnificent Frigate bird. Of the two, the Great Frigate bird has the greater world-wide distribution, being found primarily throughout the tropical Pacific and Indian Oceans.
In the Galapagos, the two species can be seen nesting side by side, but when Frigate birds are sighted in the air, they typically are Magnificent Frigate birds, as Great Frigate birds tend to forage much further out at sea. As with the three similar species of Booby birds, similar species of Frigate Birds avoid competition by feeding in different locations.
You can tell the two species of Frigate birds apart by their sounds - a Great Frigate bird makes a 'gobbling' noise like a turkey, while a Magnificent Frigate bird will make a rattling or drumming sound.
Both species of Frigate bird have extremely high wingspans to bodyweight ratios allowing them soar and to fly extremely well and with excellent control. Using this control, Frigate birds routinely steal food from other birds by grabbing them by their tail feathers and shaking them until they regurgitate their food.
However, Frigate birds are also capable of capturing their own prey. Since Frigate birds have only a small oil gland and very little waterproofing in their wings, Frigate birds cannot dive and must instead rely on their superb aerobatics to snatch flying fish out of the air.
Frigate birds do not swim and cannot walk well, and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week, landing only to roost or breed on trees or cliffs.
To attract females, male Frigate birds will blow up their bright red throat pouch and squawk loudly as females pass overhead. The females will then choose a suitable male and land next to him. The male responds by spreading his huge wings around the female to protect her from other males.
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