Magnificent frigatebird (Fregata magnificens), Palm Beach
Papiamento name: makuaku, skèrchi
The magnificent frigatebird was sometimes previously known as Man O'War, reflecting its rakish lines, speed, and aerial piracy of other birds. This bird species measures 100 cm (39 inches) long with a 215 cm (85 inch) wingspan. Males are all black with a scarlet throat pouch, which inflates like a balloon in the breeding season. Although the feathers are black, the scapular feathers produce a purple iridescence when they reflect sunlight. Females are black, but have a white breast and lower neck sides, a brown band on the wings and a blue eye ring. Immature birds have a white head and underparts. The magnificent frigatebird is very similar to the other frigatebirds and is similarly sized to all but the lesser frigatebird (Fregata ariel). However, it lacks a white axillary spur, and juveniles show a distinctive diamond-shaped belly patch.
This species of frigatebird feeds mainly on fish, and also attacks other seabirds to force them to disgorge their meals. Frigatebirds never land on water, and always take their food items in flight. It is silent in flight, but makes various rattling sounds at its nest. It spends days and nights on the wing, with an average ground speed of 10 km/hour, covering 223±208 km before landing.
The magnificent frigatebird is widespread in the tropical Atlantic, breeding colonially in trees in Florida, the Caribbean and Cape Verde Islands. It also breeds along the Pacific coast of the Americas from Mexico to Ecuador including the Galapagos Islands. It has occurred as a vagrant as far from its normal range as the Isle of Man, Denmark, Spain, England, and British Columbia.
The magnificent frigatebird is currently classified as Least Concern (LC)' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, but the Proceedings of the Royal Society paper recommends that, because of the genetic uniqueness of those on the Galápagos, this status be revisited.
Photo credit: Christian König (SHAPE/DCNA)
Dutch CaribbeanArubaPalm BeachbiodiversitybirdfrigatebirdFregatidaemagnificent frigatebirdFregata magnificensmakuakuskèrchiSHAPE
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