One of my favorite professors in college was an ornithologist, and one of the few reasons I would willingly get up early on the weekend was to go birding with him. He led our class on a trip to Ecuador and the Galápagos islands, where we saw pelicans, oystercatchers, herons, frigatebirds, and three different kinds of boobies, as well as Darwin’s famous finches. Here’s one of my favorite shots of a male great frigatebird in flight.
We use the mnemonic “green is great” to distinguish the great frigatebird, which has greenish feathers, from the magnificent frigatebird, which is more purple-ish. Females have white patches at their throat instead of the males’ red throat pouch.
You can find more taking flight at the original Lens-Artist challenge.
A male frigatebird in flight, ID’d by his hooked beak, forked tail, and red throat pouch. There are so many seabirds on the cliffs of Genovesa, it was easy to capture one (or several) in motion. I think I see a green sheen to his feathers, which would make him a great frigatebird; purple would indicate a magnificent frigatebird.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Motion
A frigatebird in flight. Although not endemic to the Galapagos, frigatebirds are a very common sight, especially among the large seabird colonies on Genovesa. This species was recently re-classified in the order Suliformes, along with the boobies and cormorants, which also have species in the Galapagos.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Ephemeral
This is a male frigatebird in flight, viewed from the rear. I can’t ID the exact species from this picture, because the best way to do that is look at the color of the feathers. But I can tell it’s male because you can see the red gular sac located at the throat–that’s the red bump hanging down below the body. Gular sacs are very prominent in male frigatebirds and are used for courtship displays.
As you can see, this cliff area of Genovesa, or Tower, island is swarming with sea birds: frigatebirds, boobies, petrels, etc. They nest on the cliffs and feed in the waters by swooping down. Frigatebirds are sometimes called “pirate” or “Man o’ war” birds because they have a habit of stealing other birds’ catches.