Magnificent Frigatebird Facts | Baja Wildlife Guide
Despite the sinister look of its elongated, angular beak, this huge, black seabird with a wingspan of almost 8 feet is quite elegant and streamlined. With the largest wingspan to weight ratio of any bird in the world, it is no wonder these birds are fantastic fliers.
The magnificent frigatebird measures 3.6 feet long and male magnificent’s black plumage sparkle with a purplish sheen. Magnificent females have a blue eye-ring and white underparts adorned with a black throat and juveniles have white underparts and white heads.
Like many seabirds in Baja, the frigatebird puts on a remarkable courtship display. The females visibly search out and select mates by taking flight over the rookery to examine males, who band together in groups. When a female flies low circles overhead, males respond in kind by inflating the scarlet gular pouches that dangle below their necks. After approximately 20 minutes, these heart-shaped, football-sized balloons reach full inflation. Typically, the male displays it heavenward in an effort to entice to attract females as they pass overhead. He also makes loud drumming and clicking sounds and vibrates his wings rapidly to further entice females. Once paired, the couple begins building nests. Frigates are known for stealing twigs from nearby nests so while the male searches for twigs, the female remains at the nest site to protect it from thieves.