Birds of the World

COAST BIRDS
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WORLD BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  Great Frigatebird
 
 
 

TRAITS
 Ratites
 Tinamous
 Cracids/Galli
 Waterfowl
   Screamers
   Ducks

 Penguins
 Loons
 Grebes
 Procellarids
   Albatrosses
   Petrels
   Storm-Petrels

Totipalmate Swm

   Tropicbirds
   Gannets/Boobies
   Pelicans
   Cormorants
   Anhingas
   Frigatebirds

 
Waders
   Herons
   Ibises
   Storks  

 NW Vultures
 Flamingos
 Raptors
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   Buttonquail
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 Shorebirds
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   Oystercatchers
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 Pigeons
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   Hornbills
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   Kingfishers
   Bee-eaters
   Jacamars/Puffbd

 
Pici
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   Woodpeckers
   Barbets/Toucans

PASSERINES
   NZ WRENS
   OW SUBOSC

      Broadbills
      Pittas

 NW SUBOSC
   NW Flycatchers

   Becards
   Cotingas
   Manakins
   Antbirds
   Ovenbirds
   Woodcreepers
   Antthrushes
   Tapaculos 

 OSCINES
 Lyre-/Scrub-birds
 Bowerbirds
 Aust. Wrens
 Honeyeaters
 Scrubwrens
 Aust. Robins
 Kinglets
 Shrikes
 Vireos
 Whistlers
 Corvids
 Birds-of-Paradse
 OW Orioles
 Cuckoo-shrikes
 Fantails
 Drongos
 Monarchs
 Bush-shrikes
 Wattle-eyes
 Vangas
 Waxwings
 Dippers
 Thrushes
 OW Flycatchers
 Starlings
 Mimids
 Nuthatches
 N Creepers
 Wrens
 Gnatcatchers
 Tits/Parids
 Larks
 Swallows
 Leaf-Warblers
 Bulbuls
 Cisticolas
 White-eyes
 Babblers
 OW Warblers
 Flowerpeckers
 Sunbirds
 OW Sparrows
 Accentors
 Pipits
 Estridids
 Weavers
 Whydahs
 9-prim. Oscines

   Fringillines
   Carduelines
   Hawaiian Honycrp
   NW Sparrows
   NW Warblers
   Tanagers
   Cardinals
   NW Blackbirds

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Pelecaniformes - Fregatidae
 
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Pelecaniformes
Families: Tropicbirds, Gannets and Boobies, Pelicans, Cormorants, Anhingas, Frigatebirds,
      Hamerkop, Shoebill
 
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All Tropicbirds, All Sulids, All Pelicans, All Cormorants, All Anhingas, All Frigatebirds,
Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge
 
Skip to:  
Plunge Diving, Relative Sizes of Pelicans, Identifying Frigatebirds
 
Species:   
Red-tailed Tropicbird, Blue-footed Booby, Nazca Booby, Australian Pelican,
Brown Pelican (Galapagos), Peruvian Pelican. Pied Cormorant, Pelagic Cormorant,
Brandt's Cormorant
, Neotropic Cormorant, Rock Cormorant, Imperial Cormorant,
Red-legged Cormorant, Flightless Cormorant, Great Frigatebird
 
Images:   
Red-billed Tropicbird, Blue-footed Booby, Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant,
Anhinga, Magnificent Frigatebird, Totipalmate toes, Gular pouch, Red-billed Tropicbirds, Masked Booby, Northern Gannet, Brown Pelican. Anhinga, Great Frigatebird
 
  Great Frigatebird, Fregata minor
 
Wiki     ToL     EoL
  The Great Frigatebird is widely distributed in the Indian and Pacific Oceans with a small Atlantic population found coastally in eastern and southern Brazil. It is slightly smaller than the Magnificent Frigatebird but is otherwise very similar. Males have dark backs with a bluish (rather than purple) sheen to the mantle. They also have brownish primary coverts forming a light bar on the upper wing. Females have a white throat and breast. Young have rust-colored patches on the head and breast.
   Great Frigatebirds feed farther from shore, feeding on flying fish and squid. They are also kleptoparasitic like Magnificient Frigatebirds and may feed on Sea Lion placentas.
   They are included here as birds you will see if you visit the Galapagos.
 

Great Frigatebird

Male. Dark but with a carpal bar. Note bluish iridescence in prominent mantle feathers.

Female

Female on the nest. Note the white throat.

Male and Female





   Male and
   Female (male
   slightly out of
   focus).
  Young
Note the red skin around the eye in the female. It is blue in Magnificent Frigatebirds
 
Young
Young
 
Young Great Frigatebird ready to fledge. North Seymour Island, Galapagos. Note rusty wash on throat and head.
   
Young Great Frigatebirds (the tails are still short). The bird on the right was feeding on Green Sea Turtles as they emerged from their nest at Punta Moreno on Floreana Island in the Galapagos. Click for a movie
 
 
Identifying Frigatebirds
     Identifying a coastal frigatebird in our state is easy - it is a Magnificent Frigatebird. Count yourself fortunate to see one here. If, however, you visit the tropical eastern Pacific, you will find both Magnificent and Great Frigatebirds. Upon returning from the Galapagos, pictures in hand, I've spent considerable time trying to sort out these two species. Here are my conclusions:
   Males: males are supposed to differ in the iridescent colors of their mantle but references differ in the colors. My conclusion - Great Frigatebirds show some deep blue iridescence in the mantle while the mantles of Magnificent Frigatebirds are darker (deep purple to almost black) and may show a "flash" of green if the angle is just right. Male Great Frigatebirds have a lighter carpal bar that is evident in the folded wing when they are perched.
   The safest characteristic identifying males is the company they keep at the nests - you can assume they belong to the species of the females/young with which they perch and interact.
    Obviously mantle characteristics or associations with others are not useful for flying males. Give up - call them frigatebirds (or "frigates").
   Females: look for a black throat in Magnificent Frigatebirds and a white throat in Great Frigatebirds. Unfortunately they often appear as a silhouette so this distinction may be hard to determine.
   Young: Nestling and fresh fledglings have a white head and neck in Magnificent Frigatebirds and have their neck and head variously splotched with rusty patches in Great Frigatebirds. Frigates take 6 years to mature and there are intermediate plumages - fortunately immature non-breeding birds are seldom seen near nesting areas where you can concentrate on new young and mature adults.
   As a general rule - species of seabirds using the same breeding areas tend to segregate into their own preferred habitat. On North Seymour in the Galapagos, Magnificent Frigatebirds breed higher in Dwarf Palo Santo trees farther inland than the lower, more coastal, bushes (saltbush and other species) used by Great Frigatebirds, although there is overlap.
 
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Magnificient Frigatebird
Great Frigatebird
       
     
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