Masters of the wind, Magnificent Frigatebirds SOAR. I rarely see them flap their wings.
With a lightly built, 3-foot-long body and a wingspan of up to 8 feet, they have the largest wing area to body weight ratio of ANY bird.
The forked tail is one of the ways to ID this bird. (The swallow-tailed kite is the other large bird with a forked tail we see around here, but generally over land rather than water.)
This one has a white head and is therefore a juvenile. Adult females also have a white breast and belly but a black head. Adult males are all brownish-black, with an inflatable red throat patch for looking sexy during mating season.
They nab fish off the surface of the ocean with their long, hooked bills. They will also harass other seabirds until they drop their food, then catch it in mid-air.
They do not, and cannot, land on the ocean. (They aren’t able to take flight from the water’s surface.) They can spend days and nights in flight.
We spotted this bird from a friend’s boat late Sunday afternoon. We have lived in Florida for six and a half years but my husband and I still say, “Look, a frigatebird!” when we see one.
We also say, “Must be an east wind.” And, “Frigatebirds are so cool.” And, “Look at him soar! Never a flap.”
Wouldn’t the best design for a kite be the shape of a frigatebird?