Is that a dinosaur, soaring up there? Well, perhaps not quite, but our Beak of the Week – the Magnificent Frigatebird – is soaring into the Houston area these days. This pirate-bird of the high seas is commonly seen from boats and beaches throughout the late spring and summer months.
The Magnificent Frigatebird is a large, predominantly blackish seabird with extremely long, angular wings and a deeply forked tail. In good light, adults can show some greenish iridescence on their upperparts. Males are all blackish and have a red throat pouch which is inflated as part of their breeding display. Adult females are mostly dark but have a white patch on the upper breast, and juveniles – which take up to five years to mature, also show varying amounts of white on their heads.
Even when compared to other similarly-sized seabirds, the Magnificent Frigatebird soars and maneuvers mid-air with extreme ease. Unlike other seabirds, however, the Magnificent Frigatebird does not swim or dive, rather it prefers to feed by snatching food from the surface and stealing from other seabirds.
By Aidan Healey, Conservation Technician, Houston Audubon
Photos by Greg Lavaty
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