The Magnificent Frigatebird
If you have spent any time at all around the waters of the Baja, you have no doubt seen the ominous looking black bird, soaring along the water’s edge. With its large black wings, forked tail, and long hooked bill it appears as dangerous as it it really is....especially to the other coastal birds out looking for a meal. The Magnificent Frigatebird, the largest of the 5 Frigatebird species, will get as much as 40% of its food by stealing it from other birds. Using their incredible diving speed they are capable of, (95 MPH / 153 KPH) they overtake seagulls, Terns and Boobies causing them to either drop their catch or in some cases, regurgitate the meal they are bringing back to their nest. They then catch their new meal in the air, or quickly scoop it off the surface of the water
One of the most recognizable features of the Frigatebirds would be the bright red gular, or throat pouch that the males inflate during breeding in order to attract a female.
All Frigatebirds nest colonially, many areas having1000 or more pairs all nesting together. Each pair will only lay one egg, but once it is hatched they are one of the most devoted parents in all the bird world. The pair will continue to feed the chick for 3 months, and then the female will take over feeding duties for an additional eight months.
Bahia San Gabriel, on the south end of Isla Espirtu Santos has a very large rookery or nest site, which is featured here in these photos.
There are many additional fun facts about the Frigatebirds. With their incredible speed, they are the 7th fasted bird in the world, they have the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of all birds. Given the fact that they spend all of their time over or around water, they cannot swim, take off from a flat surface, and are barely able to walk on flat surface. Besides their piratical nature, they skim the surface of the water and grab small fish, baby turtles and in some locations, Sea Iguanas.
Devoted parents, or Pirates of the sky, whichever way you see them, Frigatebirds are just another one of the many wonders to be found here the sea of Cortez.