Seychelles seabirds – Greater Frigatebird

Greater frigatebird (©Peter Chadwick)
Greater frigatebird (©Peter Chadwick)

Frigatebirds are long-distance fliers and spend most of their life flying over the ocean with a gliding, rarely flapping flight.  Unlike other seabirds, the feathers have poor waterproofing and the feet are not webbed. They cannot land on the sea or dive for food, but pick prey from the water surface or snatch fish from other seabirds. They build twiggy  nests in the tops of mangroves on Aldabra.  The males use an inflated bright red throat pouch to display to females; outside the breeding season the pouch is usually invisible.  Young birds are dependent on the parents for over a year, so the birds can only breed every couple of years. Like many seabird species, Greater Frigatebirds are long-lived; one survived for 34 years.

Facts:
Scientific name: Fregata minor

Creole name: Gran Fregat
Wingspan:  205 – 230 cm
Population in the Seychelles:  At least 4,000 breeding pairs, many non-breeders
World distribution:  Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Ocean
Distribution in Seychelles:  Abundant throughout Seychelles, but only breeds on Aldabra and nearby islands
Nest: In mangroves. One egg laid
Diet:  Flying fish, fish stolen from other seabirds, baby turtles.
Identification: A huge black seabird with long wings. Male is all black, female has white chest patch and juvenile white chest patch and head

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