Join for FREE
It only takes a minute!
Zeiss - Always on the lookout for something special – Shop now

Welcome to BirdForum.
BirdForum is the net's largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE! You are most welcome to register for an account, which allows you to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Personal tools
Main Categories

Magnificent Frigatebird

From Opus

Female (above) and Male in mating displayPhoto by Ian JeanneretSanta Cruz, Galapagos, Ecuador
Female (above) and Male in mating display
Photo by Ian Jeanneret
Santa Cruz, Galapagos, Ecuador
Fregata magnificens


[edit] Identification

Adult male, Adult female, Immature male, JuvenilePhoto by DABSLa Brea, Trinidad, March 2018
Adult male, Adult female, Immature male, Juvenile
Photo by DABS
La Brea, Trinidad, March 2018
Photo by STEFFRO1Fernandina, Galapagos Islands, August 2015
Photo by STEFFRO1
Fernandina, Galapagos Islands, August 2015
  • Length: 35–44.9 in or 89–114 cm
  • Wingspan: 85.4–88.2 in (about 7 feet) or 217–224 cm

Females significantly larger than males, and Caribbean populations generally a little larger than more westerly populations. Both sexes and all age-groups have:

  • Long, hooked bill
  • Mostly black plumage
  • Long pointed wings with characteristic profile
  • Long, deeply forked tail often held closed


  • All black with purple gloss
  • Scarlet throat pouch that can be inflated during mating displays


  • Black head and back
  • White breast does not reach anywhere near the bill
  • Brown band on wings
  • Inconspicuous blue eye ring

Immature White head and underparts, rest of bird black

[edit] Similar species

On a sitting female, black on the chin and throat makes a dark arrow pointing into the white breast, and on a flying bird, the border seems perpendicular to the flight direction. On a female Great Frigatebird, the white breast points into the black, almost reaching the bill. Up close, look for different color of eye ring
Adult male has different color gloss on mantle when seen up close, and lacks the paler line on upper wing usually seen on Great Frigatebird. If visible, leg color should be diagnostic.
Juvenile Great Frigatebird is usually yellow/orange/tawny on head and upper breast, but the lack of that is not a completely safe field mark for Magnificent.

[edit] Distribution

United States; western Mexico; Central America; the Caribbean; northern South America to Brazil in the east and to Ecuador and Galapagos in the west; and on Cape Verde Islands.

[edit] Taxonomy

This is a monotypic species[1].

[edit] Habitat

Pelagic species; at sea, and commonly along coastlines. Is not bothered by human settlement, and may benefit from human activities such as fishing.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

Diet includes fish, especially flying fish, which are taken in flight. Will attack other seabirds to steal their catches or try to force them to disgorge their meals. Will also snatch offal, such as fish entrails discarded by fishermen, from the surface of the sea.

[edit] Breeding

The male attends the nest for about 100 days, while the female stays with the single offspring for approximately another year; most of that time, the young stay in the nest. The female is therefore only able to breed every other year, while males may breed every year or maybe even more often in different colonies.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Audubon Guides
  3. BBC Nature

[edit] External Links


Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Help support BirdForum

Page generated in 0.28612709 seconds with 8 queries
All times are GMT. The time now is 10:53.