Male Frigate Bird

Frigate-Bird

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Frigatebirds are a family—Fregatidae—of seabirds found across all tropical and subtropical oceans. The five extant species are classified in a single genus, Fregata. All have predominantly black plumage, long, deeply forked tails and long hooked bills. Females have white underbellies and males have a distinctive red gular pouch, which they inflate during the breeding season to attract females. Their wings are long and pointed and can span up to 2.3 metres (7.5 ft), the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of any bird.

Able to soar for days on wind currents, frigatebirds spend most of the day in flight hunting for food, and roost on trees or cliffs at night. Their main prey are fish and squid, caught when chased to the water surface by large predators such as tuna. Frigatebirds are referred to as kleptoparasites as they occasionally rob other seabirds for food, and are known to snatch seabird chicks from the nest. Seasonally monogamous, frigatebirds nest colonially. A rough nest is constructed in low trees or on the ground on remote islands. A single egg is laid each breeding season. The duration of parental care is among the longest of any bird species; frigatebirds are only able to breed every other year.

The Fregatidae are a sister group to Suloidea which consists of cormorants, darters, gannets and boobies. Three of the five extant species of frigatebirds are widespread, (the magnificent, great and lesser frigatebirds) while two are endangered (theChristmas Island and Ascension Island frigatebirds) and restrict their breeding habitat to one small island each. The oldest fossils date to the early Eocene, around 50 million years ago. Classified in the genus Limnofregata, the three species had shorter less-hooked bills and longer legs, and lived in a freshwater environment. source

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