Breeding Frigatebirds

Jet Eliot

Male frigatebird, Galapagos Male frigatebird, Galapagos

Although I had seen them soaring many times from Hawaiian shorelines, my goal was to see the male frigatebird in breeding.  I wanted to see the sea bird with the flamboyant red throat pouch.

Frigatebirds have the largest wing-area-to-body-weight ratio of any bird on this planet.  With a wingspan stretching 7.5 feet (2.3 meters), they have been known to fly continuously for up to 12 days–hunting, bathing, and drinking on the wing.

Lacking oil glands, they cannot dry off, do not swim.  Due to their body proportionality, they cannot walk.  Their pneumatic (filled with air) bones are so light, they only contribute to 5% of the total body weight.  They live in tropical or subtropical seas, and breed on certain remote oceanic islands.

Female Great Frigatebird Female Great Frigatebird

Named for their sea faring ways, frigatebirds are slow breeders, producing only one egg per season, every other year.  More info

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