The Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) is one of the flashiest seabirds found on the Galapagos Islands, putting on a show like no other during their courtship displays. When males want to attract a mate, they will fill up their incredibly crimson red throat patch with air, causing it to blow up like a huge “sexy” balloon. They also throw their heads back and dance, to further accentuate the expansion and catch the attention of potentially interested females.
This red throat patch is absent on females and juveniles, where the females have white feathers on their chest instead and the juveniles also have a white chest and white head, which darkens as they mature. Despite the lack of throat patch, which is difficult to see while males are in flight anyways, the distinctive shape of their angular wings and forked tails make them easy to identify as they soar high overhead. They are also the largest of the seabirds, so you are surely won’t miss them.
If we haven’t already caught your attention, here comes the really interesting part. Frigatebirds eat fish, but they do not dive, because they do not even have waterproof feathers. Instead, they will sometimes use their hooked beak to skim the water’s surface for fish, or they employ some more pirate-like methods of chasing other seabirds until they give up the fish that they have dove for!
Though The Galapagos used to be a popular stop off for all kinds of seafarers, these are thankfully the only pirates that we are bound to run into on our tours through the islands. Inquire today about our next available tour dates.