|Greg Lavaty | profile | all galleries >> My Blog >> Prehistoric Visitor? No, itís the Magnificent Frigatebird 09-25-2012||tree view | thumbnails | slideshow|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For more Magnificent Frigatebird photos please click here: