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Magnificent Frigatebird

Michael Palin presents the magnificent frigatebird, a true oceanic bird.

Michael Palin presents the magnificent frigatebird a true oceanic bird, and resembling a hook-billed, pterodactyl of a seabird.

Magnificent frigatebirds are some of the most accomplished aeronauts of the tropical oceans. Their huge wingspans of over two metres and long forked tails allow them to soar effortlessly and pluck flying fish from the air, and also harass seabirds. These acts of piracy earned them the name Man-o' War birds and attracted the attention of Christopher Columbus.
Magnificent Frigatebirds breed on islands in the Caribbean, and along the tropical Pacific and Atlantic coasts of central and South America as well as on the Galapagos Islands. Frigatebird courtship is an extravagant affair. The males gather in "clubs" , perching on low trees or bushes.

Here they inflate their red throat-pouches into huge scarlet balloons, calling and clattering their bills together as they try to lure down a female flying overhead. If they're successful, they will sire a single chick which is looked after by both parents for three months and by its mother only for up to 14 months, the longest period of parental care by any bird.

Available now

2 minutes

Last on

Wed 3 Feb 2016 05:58

Magnificent frigatebird (Fregata magnificens)

Webpage image courtesy of Mark Carwardine /

NPL Ref 01368132 © Mark Carwardine /


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