Log in

No account? Create an account
Previous Entry Share Next Entry
The Magnificent Frigatebird
Fregata Magnificents


The Magnificent Frigatebird


Fregata magnificens

The first bird most visitors to our island notice is the Frigatebird. As you settle on the veranda of your hotel in the afternoon gazing out at the reef you may notice soaring above the fisherman’s shoreline is a very large black sea bird with extremely long pointed wings and a deeply forked tail.

Bubba and I probably get asked by San Pedro’s tourist every week, ’what’s that large Teradactail looking bird up there?’ Small birds seem to go unnoticed by most nonbirders. The frigate is big! Wingspan runs more than 7 feet and soars high over the water never landing on its surface. Over the centuries of mans naming birds the Frigate has worldwide been referred to as ‘The Man-O-war Bird’.

Most ornithological groups have placed it in the order of Pelecaniformes. The males are black with an oblivious red Gular, the juveniles and female have a white head and neck. The description I like, having known this bird for some 15 years, is in David Siblys ‘Guide To Birds’, It says,” A distinctive aerial pirate”. What kind of personality would you imagine a bird would have if it ate only fish but could not swim? Born to steal.

 Rodger Pasquier in his book, ‘An Introduction to Ornithology’ wrote,” Frigatebirds that lack waterproof feathers swoop to the surface of the water and pick up fish with out ever landing.” And ‘in theory ‘as they say Rodger is correct but if fishing was that easy wouldn’t we all just swoop down and pick up a bag full? What I’ve witnessed watching Ambergris’s Frigates is: Skilled fishing birds such as the Cormorant, Gull and Tern dive for the fish only to have the frigate swoop down and grab it from their mouths. The Cormorant can’t swallow its catch underwater and I’ve watched the Frigate circle above until it surfaces then quickly snatch a meal with little struggle on the part of the surprised Cormorant, however the Tern doesn’t give it up without a fight, The poor fish sometimes goes from the Terns mouth to the Frigates then retrieved by the Tern and back again to the Frigate with the Frigate ultimately being the prize winner.

Of the 5 species in the world Ambergris is densely populated with only the magnificent. Part of its success on the island is due to the many fishing boats cleaning their catch and sharing their scraps with the birds. From low altitude you can see the red gular area on the males neck. This can be inflated into two large balloons for display to the females. When courting the male, while sitting on the nest he has built for her, inflates the guglar bends his neck down and beats them rapidly with his beak like two drums causing an almost rattling noise. They nest atop the mangrove and in colonies sometimes in conjunction with the Boobies as on Half Moon Caye. The nest is a large platform of sticks constructed by the male but built from materials presented him by the female.

Frigates living in harmony with us on the island.


  • 1
wow. such a grace bird!

I can feed them by throwing sardines (little fish) into the air and they catch them.
Я могу накормить их бросали сардин (мало рыбы) в воздух, и они их улова.

What does the last line mean?

You're studying Russian?

Its a translation of the line above. most of my LJ friends speak Russian as a first language.
I'm exploring and discovering the new Russian world with LP..Its a fascinating place.

Well. I got that it's a translation. But a bit incorrect one.

Correct one is "Я могу кормить их, подбрасывая в воздух сардины (это такие маленькие рыбки), и они ловят их".

Its a problem for sure.
I use the google translator and reverse translate to check for errors but still it isn't correct is it.
No wonder my Russian friends laugh at me.

Well, I don't actually think that they laugh at you. Smile maybe...

At least I'm not laughing. If you need any help in translation to russian or help in studying russian - you're welcome.


By the way, I heard that they really spend whole life in the air never landing.

Is it true?

They sit on nests in a rookery I visit but I can see how they might have that reputation they fly all day. gliding with the wind currents.

  • 1