Dec 27 2010
Magnificent frigatebirds are large tropical sea birds unlike any other. With a 7-foot wingspan and a long forked tail they are powerful and graceful in flight, so good at flying that they can ride out a hurricane.
On land they are far from graceful. Their legs are so short that they can’t walk so they use their strong toes and claws to perch on trees, woody shrubs, boat rigging or whatever is convenient. They never land on the ground and very, very rarely land on water.
Frigatebirds got their name because pirates sailed in frigates. Though they get most of their meals by catching fish and squid near the ocean’s surface, frigatebirds are known for stealing food from other seabirds whom they harass until the victims regurgitate the fish held in their throats. The frigatebirds then dive and catch the meal before it hits the ocean.
This is only the second time in my life I’ve seen a magnificent frigatebird, so for me this was a rare sighting. Frigatebirds don’t breed on the coast of Florida (except in The Keys) but they travel widely … because they can.
(photo from Wikipedia by John Picken. Click on the image to see the original.)