Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Frigate Birds Off Pine Island

There is an active rookery for these frigate birds, also called man-o-war birds, in the northern part of Pine Island Sound.  They haven't been too common around here over the past few years so this is a welcome change.  When I was fishing down in the Keys they were an everyday sight. 

If you've never seen one in person, frigate birds are really amazing.  They have an almost 8 foot wingspan but can barely walk.  Look close and at these photos and you'll see they have tiny stubs for legs and unwebbed toes.  This means they can't swim or land on the water, but they can stay in the air for more than a week and fly hundreds of miles out to sea looking for food.  I've even seen them snatch flying fish right out of the air.  Frigates are basically the Predator Drone of the bird world. 

A female frigate bird, easily identified by the white head and chest.
The same female ready to land on her tiny feet.
An male frigate with all black feathers and a red throat pouch. 
A male in full display with his throat pouch inflated. 
A trio of frigates waiting for a breeze.