Wow!  Saw this bird at Boynton Beach Inlet around noon last Thursday while I was in Florida visiting my family.  He was all black without the red gular throat skin, a non-breeding male.

Magnificent frigatebirds are large tropical sea birds unlike any other.  With a 7-foot wingspan and a long forked tail they are powerful and graceful in flight, so good at flying that they can ride out a hurricane.  

On land they are far from graceful.  Their legs are so short that they can't walk so they use their strong toes and claws to perch on trees, woody shrubs, boat rigging or whatever is convenient. They never land on the ground and very, very rarely land on water.

Frigatebirds got their name because pirates sailed in frigates.  Though they get most of their meals by catching fish and squid near the ocean's surface, frigatebirds are known for stealing food from other seabirds whom they harass until the victims regurgitate the fish held in their throats.  The frigatebirds then dive and catch the meal before it hits the ocean.

This is only the second time in my life I've seen a magnificent frigatebird, so for me this was a rare sighting.  Frigatebirds don't breed on the coast of Florida (except in The Keys) but they travel widely ... because they can.


(photo from Wikipedia by John Picken. Click on the image to see the original.)

2 thoughts on “Magnificent!

  1. They ARE magnificent. I was lucky enough to see these once when a storm came through Florida while I was there and pushed them near the coast for a day. They just hovered over the beach, their angular forms reminding me of a bunch of Pterodactyls, a really neat and unusual sight. Have never seen them since (although I haven’t made it to Florida much since).

  2. I am lucky enough to vacation regularly in Bonaire, down near Aruba and Venezuela. Frigates frequent the area, and roost in the mangroves, at night. So, I see them frequently, as they try to bum a meal from the local fishermen, all along the coast.

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