Magnificent Frigatebird

Magnificent Frigatebird
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Magnificent Frigatebird

Sightings
We had numerous views of Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens along the coasts of the island of Tobago. It is a commonly seen bird and especially from our hotel, the Blue Waters Inn, where these birds patrol the sea across to the island of Little Tobago and are visible throughout the day. This particular adult female bird came much closer to the shore than usual and had me rushing to find my camera and take a photo.

In fact, when I first saw it, it was carrying a large dead fish in its bill which it dropped into the water. Several people with cameras gathered on the jetty adjacent to the dead fish while the bird circled overhead. Eventually, it dived and missed the fish but caught it in its feet on the second pass and transferred it to its bill before flying away. This gave the photographers a wonderful opportunity to photograph the bird in flight and catching the fish.

Species
Magnificent Frigatebird is a huge bird which always look menacing overhead. Its shape with long and narrow pointed wings and extensively forked tail is distinctive and makes identification easy in this part of the Caribbean where it is the only member of its family. It is a piratical species which chases other seabirds relentlessly until they drop or regurgitate their prey for the Frigatebird to catch in flight. The Frigatebird itself does not have oil glands and is therefore unable to catch its own food by diving.

Status and Distribution
Magnificent Frigatebird is widespread in the tropical Atlantic, breeding colonially in trees in Florida, the Caribbean and also along the Pacific coast of the Americas from Mexico to Ecuador, including the Galápagos Islands. It is classified as least concern and has an increasing population covering an area of 33 million square kilometres

References
Wikipedia; BirdLife; Kenefick, M., Restall, R., and Hayes, F. (2015) Birds of Trinidad and Tobago, Bloomsbury Publishing, page 44.

Photograph
Taken in excellent light at 1/2000th second, f5.6 and ISO 200

Country: Trinidad and Tobago
Location: Blue Waters Inn, Tobago
Family: Frigatebirds (Fregatidae)
Species: Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens)
Date taken: 15/05/2017