Behind the Lens: Voluptuous Frigate Birds in Galapagos

On a Galapagos cruise, you will experience life of so many different species of birds and they are all interesting. And yet, there’s something supernatural, somehow, about the frigate bird. It’s partly the look of the frigate. “They look like a flashback to the dinosaur days,” says Silversea’s Peter Shanks, who wrote about his two weeks in Galapagos on Silver Origin for Discover.  “The males have a wonderful red balloon that comes out below their beak as part of their mating ritual.”

Indeed, the flutter of black wings and the impressive puff of a red chest inflating mark its flamboyant mating ritual.

And while you should definitely plan a trip to Galapagos to see for yourself (the frigate bird and many, many other species of natural life), Silversea Expedition Filmmaker Jorge Prigann was fortunate to capture the peculiar mating display that occurs during the breeding season when the males fill their balloon-like scarlet red throat pouch with air.

During this process, they outstretch their wings as they shimmy their feathers and dip their head back as they shake their head and clap their bill. This is all in the hope of attracting a prospective female as she flies by. Interesting: females are vastly different in appearance, with no red throat pouch and are larger in size than males.

This experience can be observed within close proximity here, Prigann tells us, making it a special experience for onlookers. Breeding colonies can be viewed at North Seymour, Floreana, San Cristobal and Genovesa.

Frigate Bird in Galapagos. Photo via Shutterstock.

One last factoid. Did you know that two of the world’s five species of frigate birds can be found in Galapagos? Here you’ll see the great frigate bird and the magnificent frigate bird. What all of these subtropical and tropical seabirds share in common is a forked tail and a large wingspan that helps them glide so gracefully through the sky.