Monday, September 26, 2011

Frigate Birds

Another icon of the Galapagos Islands is the Magnificent Frigate Bird during mating season with its bright red throat pouch inflated.  Unfortunately I wasn't there during mating season so did not get to see the mating display of these birds, but I did get to see plenty of them flying in the sky and nesting in trees.  The frigates are large birds with very long slender wings (up to 6 foot wingspan) and a long beak.  There are a few species of Frigatebirds on the islands and you can see subtle differences in their size and coloring.  They are often referred to as Man O'Wars because of their speed and piracy of food from other birds.  They will actually chase other birds in flight and steal prey right out of their mouth.  When they do get their wings wet they do a very funny yoga like pose in the sunshine spreading their wings to dry off.  During breeding season the male Magnificent Frigate birds will inflate their red throat poach to attract a female mate.  The male birds get very competitive and have been known to pop each others pouches with their beaks in fits of aggression, which can be fatal.  I saw a few birds with shriveled up red pouches which means they are as my guide put it "married."  They have found their mate and don't need to bother being attractive anymore!  Their chicks are white and fuzzy and slowly develop black outer wing coloring before they become the dark brown black of their parents..

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Magnificent Frigate Bird with Chick in Nest from Rebecca Yale on Vimeo.

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