One of the great surprises I had the first time I visited the Galapagos Islands was how much I enjoyed the bird life there. Seabirds seabirds everywhere! The most enjoyable to watch are the frigatebirds (Fregata sp.). Pirates of the air and sea, frigatebirds don’t catch their own food, rather they have adapted to steal it from other birds. They carry out their felonious work in flight. It is not uncommon to see one or more frigates chasing a gull or booby as the victim returns from sea to its island nest with a mouthful or belly-full of hard-earned food. The frigates, which are unbelievably maneuverable in the air due to their extremely high ratio of wing span to body weight, harrass their victim in flight until it spits out, or worse, barfs up, its food. The frigates peel away and drop like fiends, scooping the food out of the air before it hits the water. The hapless victim is left to its nest, or to return to the sea to forage again. Here is a photo of an adult male magnificent frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) with its red throat pouch inflated in a courtship display, photographed on North Seymour Island in the central Galapagos.
Magnificent frigatebird, adult male on nest, with throat pouch inflated, a courtship display to attract females.
Image ID: 16725
Species: Magnificent frigatebird, Fregata magnificens
Location: North Seymour Island, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador