Two of the world’s five species of frigatebirds are found in the Galapagos: the magnificent and great frigatebird. Frigatebirds are also known as “Pirate birds”, because of their proclivity to steal meals from other birds or snatch a chick from a nest.
Unlike some other seabirds, frigatebirds do not have sufficient oil glands to waterproof their feathers so they cannot dive into the sea. They hover or skim above the surface of the sea to capture fish or steal scraps. In mid-air food battles, frigatebirds dive and swerve in an aerial acrobatic act.
Frigatebirds also have very light bones; they are essentially built to stay aloft. To attract a female, the male frigatebird inflates his bright red throat pouch. He then sits proudly on a bush or tree hoping females flying overhead will take interest. If the male is successful and a mate is found, they will share parental duties raising a chick in a nest in a tree or bush. The parents take turns fishing and regurgitating a meal for the chick. They must also take care so that the chick does not fall out of the nest before it is ready to fly.