Great Frigatebird

Fregata minor ridgwayi

The Galápagos Islands

25th July 2005

There are 12 colonies of Great Frigatebird in the Galápagos archipelago, most of them shared with their close relatives, the Magnificent Frigatebirds. In Genovesa, they are by far the more common of the two species.
The males of both species are very similar, except for the colour of the wing sheen (green for Great, purple for Magnificent).

Great Frigatebird

Great Frigatebird chick - 24Kb

The Great Frigatebirds also have reddish or reddish-brown legs and feet, but it is seldom easy to see their legs!

The chicks and juvenile birds usually (but not always) have a pale orange wash around their head and/or neck.
The young birds are dependent on their parents for up to a year after fledging.

Although the adult females are very similar to female Magnificents, a close view shows that they have a red or pink, rather than a blue eye-ring.

Frigatebirds do not reach maturity until their fourth year, so a wide range of juvenile/intermediate plumages occurs during that time.

Great Frigatebird adult female - 29Kb

Great Frigatebird wing detail - 21Kb

This detail of the iridescence of an adult male Great Frigatebird's wing shows clearly the predominantly green tones which set it apart from the Magnificent Frigatebird.

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Text and images © Liz Leyden, 2008
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