Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens)

Magnificent Frigatebird

[order] Pelecaniformes | [family] Fregatidae | [latin] Fregata magnificens | [UK] Magnificent Frigatebird | [FR] Fregate superbe | [DE] Prachtfregattvogel | [ES] Rabihorcado Magnifico | [IT] Fregata magnifica | [NL] Amerikaanse Fregatvogel


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

Black with very long, narrow, pointed wings, deeply forked tail, and long hooked bill. Male has brilliant red throat pouch in breeding season, which it inflates to huge size during courtship. Female has white breast. Young have white heads and underparts.

Listen to the sound of Magnificent Frigatebird

[audio: Frigatebird.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 220 cm wingspan max.: 235 cm
size min.: 97 cm size max.: 102 cm
incubation min.: 53 days incubation max.: 61 days
fledging min.: 150 days fledging max.: 180 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 1  


During the non-breeding season, the magnificent frigatebird is found as far north as Alaska and as far east as the western coasts of Europe and Africa. The breeding range of the Magnificent frigatebird is throughout the Caribbean islands and the tropical areas of the east and west coasts of Central and South America. Breeding occurs in mangroves on coral reefs or in deciduous trees and bushes on dry islands. The magnificent frigatebird uses a male lek mating system. Males form groups of six to 30 individuals and each male selects a nesting spot. Females fly over the grouping of males and choose a mate. The nest is built upon the chosen display site of the male.

Clutch size of the magnificent frigatebird is one egg and the incubation period lasts between 53 and 61 days. Both parents participate in nest defense and incubation of the egg. Females feed young for 10 to 16 months but males help feed the young for only three months. Three months after the young has hatched, males abandon their mates and the colony to molt. Males return to the colony the next breeding season to mate again, usually with another mate. Therefore, males are able to mate annually. Females only are able to mate every other year because they stay with their young for up 16 months


The magnificent frigatebird lives on ocean coasts and islands. In breeding season it lives on mangrove islands.


Male frigatebirds inflate their red throat pouches to attract a mate. Frigatebirds nest in colonies. The female frigatebird lays one egg in a nest built of sticks, usually in a clump of mangrove. Sometimes the nest is built in a tree, bush or on the ground. The nest is built by the female. The male brings the materials.

It takes about 50 days for the chick to hatch. Both the male and the female incubate the egg and both parents feed the chick. When the chick is young, one parent is always with it to protect it from the other frigatebirds. The male leaves when the chick is about 12 weeks old. The chick fledges when it is about five to six months old. The female will continue to feed the chick for another four months.

Feeding habits

The diet of the magnificent frigatebird consists mostly of flying fish and squid. However, other prey items include young turtles, crabs, jellyfish, plankton, and young of other seabirds. The magnificent frigatebird is a glider and has a forked tail used to maneuver in the air. The species has not been observed swimming or diving and cannot walk bipedally. Individuals are usually perched when not gliding.


This species has a large range, with an estimated global breeding Extent of Occurrence of 50,000-100,000 km

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