Magnificent Frigatebird

Fregata magnificens
Range Map

Frigatebirds are well known kleptoparasites, meaning they will steal food from other birds. Despite this well-earned reputation, they capture most of their food themselves, rather than by theft.

The Magnificent Frigatebird is the largest of all frigatebirds. They range across the Caribbean and Gulf coast of the USA south to northern Argentina. They are also found along the Pacific coast of the Americas from Southern California to Ecuador.

Taxonomists today recognise two subspecies of Magnificent Frigatebird:

  • F. m. rothschildi lives in the eastern Pacific from Mexico south to Ecuador, in the western Atlantic from Mexico and Florida south to Brazil, and in the eastern Atlantic near the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa.
  • F. m. magnificens lives in the Galapagos Islands.

As a young man in my early 20s, I traveled frequently to Mexico’s west coast and the Baja California peninsula with my dad. We often saw these birds in their effortless flight near the shores where we camped. Photography was not in my wheelhouse during these times. However, in 2017, while in the company of seasoned biologists and other scientists on a voyage to the Revillagigedo Islands (Mexico). There, I captured several pleasing images of these birds 

In Texas after a 16,000-mile expedition of western Canada and the USA, I boarded the Port Aransas Ferry and crossed the channel. I noticed Black Terns joined by gulls and pelicans foraging in the churned waters, caused by the ferry’s propellers. After disembarking, I found a vantage point where I could capture some images. As I worked on the terns foraging, I was surprised by a fly-over from a Magnificent Frigatebird.

17 Photos

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