Magnificent Frigatebird is characterized by extremely long, pointed wings, the
longest wings for any bird in comparison to overall body weight. They are
most commonly seen soaring, dipping down close to the water's surface to pick up
food items, but never landing or swimming in the water. They are primarily
a coastal species, but on occasion can be found inland. The male has a
dramatic thraot sac which is inflated during mating display (see photo to the
right). The species is considered "hypothetical" in South Dakota, given that
rare inland sightings have occurred in nearby states.
Habitat: Typically found along the coastline, or less
often further out to sea. They can also rarely be found over inland water
Diet: Primarily feeds on fish, as well as jellyfish,
squid, crustaceans, young birds, eggs, and young vertebrates.
Behavior: Spends most of it's time putting it's long
wings to good use, soaring in flight, dipping down to the surface of the water
to grab food items. Even when feeding over land, it will typically grab
items in flight rather than land.
Nesting: Usually nests in coastal bushes or
trees, often mangroves.
Breeding Map: Non-breeder in South Dakota
Song: Usually silent, except when on their breeding
grounds. Males in display (such as photo above) give some repeated
chattering sounds, along with bill clicking sounds.
Migration: Not typically migratory, although individual birds
will wander widely. Birds found wandering far from breeding colonies are
typically dispersing juveniles. They are almost always found in warmer waters.
Great Frigatebird (a very rare visitor to North
Conservation Status: Numbers seem to be stable or
increasing, with breeding on the Florida Keys not confirmed until the 1960s.
Whatbird.com: Magnificent Frigatebird
USGS Patuxent: Magnificent Frigatebird
Photo Information: Public Domain Photo from U.S. Fish