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Male Great Frigatebird nesting on Genvoesa in the GalapagosFrigate birdMale Great FrigatebirdGreat Frigatebird chick begging for food from its motherFemale Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) flying
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Frigatebird Facts

Five groups that classify all living things
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
A group of animals within a pylum
A group of animals within a class
A group of animals within an order
A group of animals within a family
Scientific Name:
The name of the animal in science
The animal group that the species belongs to
What kind of foods the animal eats
Size (H):
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
65cm - 100cm (25in - 39in)
The measurement from one wing tip to the other
150cm - 250cm (59in - 98in)
The measurement of how heavy the animal is
0.9kg - 1.9kg (1.9lbs - 4.2lbs)
Top Speed:
The fastest recorded speed of the animal
15km/h (9mph)
How long the animal lives for
15 - 25 years
Whether the animal is solitary or sociable
Conservation Status:
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
Least Concern
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
Black, White, Brown, Red
Skin Type:
The protective layer of the animal
Favourite Food:
The preferred food of this animal
The specific area where the animal lives
Tropical coasts and islands
Average Clutch Size:
The average number of eggs laid at once
Main Prey:
The food that the animal gains energy from
Fish, Crab, Squid
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
Humans, Rats, Cats
Distinctive Features:
Characteristics unique to this animal
Large wingspan and enlarged red throat of the male

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Frigatebird Location

Map of Frigatebird Locations


The frigatebird (also known as the man of war bird and the pirate bird) is a species of sea-bird found in warmer, tropical regions. Frigatebirds are thought to be most closely related to pelicans giving rise to another name for them, which is the frigate pelican.

The frigatebird is a large species of sea-bird that has an enormous wingspan that often exceeds two meters in length. Male frigatebirds are most commonly known for their red throat pouch, which are inflated to attract female frigatebirds during the mating season.

Frigatebirds are generally black in colour although some frigatebirds look slightly browner than black. Outside of the mating season, male frigatebirds and female frigatebirds can be easily identified due to the fact that the female frigatebird has a white patch on her underside.

There are five different species of frigatebird that inhabit tropical islands and coasts, with the majority of frigatebird individuals being found in the Pacific Ocean although some do inhabit areas of both the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. The magnificent frigatebird, the Ascension frigatebird, the Christmas frigatebird, the great frigatebird and the lesser frigatebird are the five different frigatebird species.

The frigatebird has the largest wingspan in comparison to its body of any bird species in the world, so the frigatebird is naturally an adept pilot. Frigatebirds have been known to stay in the air for nearly a whole week and only land on the rocky cliffs to breed or to rest.

Unlike the incredible flying ability of the frigatebird, the frigatebird is unable to walk that well and cannot swim. Frigatebirds have a diet that consists of marine animals and so frigatebirds have to pluck their prey from the water without landing as they are unable to take-off from a flat surface such as water.

Frigatebirds are sea-birds and therefore tend to have a meat-based carnivorous diet. Firgatebirds primarily eat fish including flying fish, along with crustaceans, molluscs and even small sea turtles.

Due to the large size of the frigatebird and the fact that the frigatebird spends the majority of its life in the air, frigatebirds have few natural predators with humans being the main predator of the frigatebird. Introduced species such as rats, stoats and domestic cats are commonly found hunting frigatebirds and their eggs on the land.

Female frigatebirds lay only one egg every couple of years as the frigatebird chicks take an average of 9 months to rear. Both the male frigatebird and the female frigatebird feed their chick for the first few months but the male frigatebird will then leave the colony leaving the female frigatebird to do the rest of the rearing by herself.

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First Published: 24th November 2009, Last Updated: 8th November 2019

1. Christopher Perrins, Oxford University Press (2009) The Encyclopedia Of Birds [Accessed at: 24 Nov 2009]
2. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 24 Nov 2009]
3. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2011]
4. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 24 Nov 2009]
5. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 24 Nov 2009]
6. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 24 Nov 2009]