Frigate Bird - Long-winged, Soaring, Floating Seabird
The frigate bird is also known as the hurricane or man-of-war bird. It is about 40 inches (100 cm) long and mostly brown or black with long tail feathers. The longish bill hooks downward to give them a bit of a fierce look. The wingspan stretches out to an impressive seven and a half feet across and forms such a sharp angular shape that seeing them you might imagine that there are still pterodactyls alive and flying in the sky. This can be quite a sight when they are flocks of thousands of them together high in the sky floating lazily. It is one of those birds that can float, spiraling calmly from dizzy altitudes, round and round and leisurely down. They can even stay up there for weeks. The males have a big inflatable pouch of red skin on their necks which they use impress and woo the ladies. Sometimes they even fly around with the pouches inflated. When mating season rolls around, they have a very elaborate dance and display their pouches, making noises for interested female birds who watch and then choose a mate.
There are five species of frigate birds but they have a fairly similar appearance. Some have more white plumage. It is a tropical seabird that lives in tropics around the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean. In the US, it can be found in Florida, the Gulf States and Southern California. It makes its crude nests of sticks, building on mangroves or low trees and bushes where it lays one white egg in the nest. The single offspring is guarded closely by both parents for four to six weeks and can even be fed in the nest for six months. A few of the species are at risk, however, due to a loss of breeding habitat.
The birds eat is any fish or squid that makes the mistake of coming to the water’s surface. They generally stay out of the water as it is pretty awkward with their big wings to get back out. Occasionally, they enjoy robbing the food of other seabirds or even eat young seabirds of other species.