Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens)
Isabela Island. GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
ECUADOR. South America
2 of the world's 5 frigatebird species inhabit the Galapagos Islands. These birds have the largest wingspan to bodyweight ratio of any bird. This makes them highly manoeuvrable and acrobatic fliers. They are notorious as piratical cleptomaniacs and often steal food from other birds at every opportunity. A frigatebirds is able to discriminate between a bird with a full gullet and one which is empty. The unlucky booby or tropicbird may be plucked out of the air, dangled by the tail and shaken until it regurgitates its food which is then stolen by the frigatebird. The Magnificent frigate is the larger of the two species found in the islands. In breeding season the male finds a suitable nesting area. Then slowly, over 20 minutes he pumps air into his grossly exaggerated bright red throat pouch until it is the size of a party balloon. As soon as the adult female flies by he loses control and erupts into fits of rapturous head-shaking and vibrating while uttering a shrill high-pitched cry. If the female is suitably impressed she will alight beside him and with his wing jealously protecting her the pair bond is sealed. Only one chick is reared on the flimsy stick nest.