The Female Magnificent Frigate Bird
The Magnificent Frigate bird (Fregata magnificens) is a seabird of the frigatebird family. They can be identified by their huge wingspread, forked tail, pterodactyl shape against the sky, and their soaring over the ocean, looking like a ….OK, frigate. Thus their name.
A distinctive feature is that they can fly for weeks, even a month or longer, without landing. They don’t swim so they swoop down to the ocean, grab their fish dinner, either from the water or from another bird, and keep flying. But one thing you’ll never see is a frigatebird floating on the ocean. Because their feathers — unlike those of nearly all other seabirds — are not waterproof. They can’t get their feathers wet. They’ll fly into a cumulus cloud and ride the updraft up, often over 2 miles up in the air!
Well, I’m impressed. How and when do they sleep?
The female has a white throad. The male has a striking red gular sac (throat) which it inflates to attract a mate. The female has a white breast and belly.
We were at the main island of the Dry Tortugas National Park, a park 100 miles from an mainland (Key West). We were walking along the beach toward an isolated rookery island where the frigates and other birds nest. There was a flock of them flying low overhead, diving into bushes to get something (we never figured out what unless it was crabs). As we neared them, the larger birds would start the divebombing, as if they were trying to scare us off. Which they were probably doing.
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