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Greg Lavaty | profile | all galleries >> My Blog >> Prehistoric Visitor? No, itís the Magnificent Frigatebird 09-25-2012 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

The Colorful Visitors of Spring Migration on the Upper Texas Coast Part 1 03-12-2013 | Starting the Year in the Texas Tropics 01-16-2013 | So you want to become a birder? 01-08-2013 | What camera is for the birds? 12-26-2012 | Winter Birding in California 12-17-2012 | Fall Colors in Texas? Lost Maples State Natural Area 11-15-2012 | Machu Picchu Birding 11-01-2012 | Prehistoric Visitor? No, itís the Magnificent Frigatebird 09-25-2012 | Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Migrating Marvel 09-15-2012 | Birding Utah and Arizona, Eared Grebes and Red-faced Warblers 09-08-2012 | Fall Migration, Like Spring but in the Opposite DirectionÖ Sort ofÖ 09-05-2012 | A Landscape Photography Adventure out West 08-30-2012 | The Rainbow Bird, Who Doesnít Love a Painted Bunting? 08-14-2012 | Our Summer Wanderer the Wood Stork 08-11-2012 | Are These Guys Bathing? A Quick Peek into the Life of the Black Skimmer 08-07-2012 | Upper Texas Coast Birding Locations

Prehistoric Visitor? No, itís the Magnificent Frigatebird 09-25-2012

The first time I saw a frigatebird, I remember thinking about how much it reminded me of the prehistoric pterodactyls I had read about in books. The long narrow wings and tail are like nothing I had ever seen on a bird before. I remember thinking, this bird is indeed magnificent. These lengthy wings allow frigatebirds to stay airborne for extended periods with little flapping. In fact, Magnificent Frigatebirds have the lowest wing loading of any bird.

Magnificent Frigatebird



Magnificent Frigatebird



Frigatebirds use their tails as breaks and to help them turn sharply, making them very agile fliers. This is important because of their feeding habits. One of the main prey of frigatebirds is flying fish, which the birds catch in the air or just beneath the surface of the water. Since frigatebird feathers are not very resistant to becoming waterlogged, these birds tend to minimize exposure to the water. When they snatch fish out of the water with their long beaks their excellent flying ability allows them to stay dry. This can be seen in this series of photos where a frigatebird snatching a dead fish from the surface of the water.

Magnificent Frigatebird



Magnificent Frigatebird



Magnificent Frigatebird



Magnificent Frigatebird




The other interesting feeding method of the Magnificent Frigatebird (and all frigatebird species) is known as kelptoparasitism. In other words frigatebirds steal food by harassing other birds to make them either drop food they are carrying in their beaks or even regurgitating food held in their crops. This behavior typically happens in the form of wild mid-air chases concluding in the victim dropping their food and the frigatebird catching it in mid-air.

Magnificent Frigatebird



Magnificent Frigatebird



Magnificent Frigatebird



Magnificent Frigatebird




On their breeding grounds male Magnificent Frigatebirds inflate large red air-sacs that they use in mating rituals. Unfortunately we donít get to see these in their full glory but we can see them in their deflated state.

Magnificent Frigatebird



Sexual dimorphism is exhibited in Magnificent Frigatebirds. Adult male birds are solid black, adult females are black with white breasts and light markings on the tops of their wings and juvenile immature birds have white breasts, bellies and heads. It takes five years for Magnificent Frigatebirds to reach maturity.

Magnificent Frigatebird adult male



Magnificent Frigatebird adult female



Magnificent Frigatebird immature




These amazing birds start to arrive on the upper Texas coast mid-April and start to get scarce by the end of September. These last couple of photos were taken at the Quintana Jetty (a great place to see frigatebirds on the UTC) Thursday September 20.

Magnificent Frigatebird



Magnificent Frigatebird




For more Magnificent Frigatebird photos please click here:
https://pbase.com/dadas115/magnificent_frigatebird

www.texastargetbirds.com

Magnificent Frigatebird
Magnificent Frigatebird