where are frigate birds found

Classification edit

English zoologist Alfred Henry Garrod published a study in 1874 in which he looked at different bird groups and noted which muscles of a chosen group of five[c] they had or didn’t have. He determined that there were distinct lineages within the group that belonged to different families, noting that the muscle patterns of the steganopodes (classical Pelecaniformes) varied. These lineages included frigatebirds within their own family, Fregatidae. [13] Urless N. Lanham noted in 1947 that frigatebirds shared some skeletal traits with Procellariiformes rather than Pelecaniformes, but he still believed that frigatebirds belonged in the latter group (as suborder Fregatae), even though they were an early offshoot. Based on the behavioral traits of the traditional Pelecaniformes, Martyn Kennedy and colleagues created a cladogram [14]. They determined that the frigatebirds were more divergent than pelicans from a core group that included gannets, darters, and cormorants, with tropicbirds being the most distant lineage. [15] Up until the early 1990s, this group was categorized as the classic Pelecaniformes, distinguished by totipalmate feet (all four toes connected by webbing) and the presence of a gular pouch. [16] Charles Sibley and Jon Edward Ahlquist’s DNA–DNA hybridization research put frigatebirds in a lineage with albatrosses, penguins, loons, and petrels. [17] Further genetic research identifies the frigatebirds as a sister group to the Suloidea group, which also includes darters, cormorants, and gannets. [18][19] Konstantin Mikhailov’s microscopic examination of the structure of eggshells in 1995 revealed that the crystalline shells of frigatebirds shared a similar layer of thick microglobular material with those of other Pelecaniformes. [20].

The namesake family of the Pelecaniformes, the pelicans, have repeatedly been demonstrated through molecular studies to be more closely related to herons, ibises, spoonbills, the hamerkop, and the shoebill than they are to the other species. The order that includes the frigatebirds and Suloidea was renamed Suliformes in 2010 in recognition of this. [21][22].

Parasites edit

Among seabirds, frigatebirds are unique in that they frequently carry blood parasites. Four out of the five species of Haemoproteus have been found to have blood-borne protozoa. [61] Fregatiella aurifasciata, a species of bird lice, and the ischnoceran genus Pectinopygus and amblyceran genus Colpocephalum have been found on the Galapagos Islands’ magnificent and great frigatebirds. Comparing frigatebirds to boobies examined in the same study, frigatebirds tended to have more parasitic lice. [62].

In the summer of 2005, there was a significant chick mortality at the magnificent frigatebird colony on Île du Grand Connétable, off the coast of French Guiana. The chicks displayed nodules on their skin, lost feathers, and changes to their corneas. Approximately 50% of the progeny perished within the colony within a year. It was unclear whether the isolated alphaherpesvirus, which was provisionally named Fregata magnificens herpesvirus, was the cause of the outbreak or if it only affected birds that were already malnourished. [63].

Distribution and habitat edit

Over tropical oceans, frigatebirds can be seen riding warm updrafts beneath cumulus clouds. Their range is determined by the presence of food sources like flying fish and the trade winds, which create the windy conditions necessary for them to fly. [43] They are uncommon wanderers in temperate areas; they are not present in polar latitudes. Adults stay close to the islands where they breed and are usually sedentary. [43] Nevertheless, male frigatebirds have been known to travel great distances after leaving a breeding colony; a male magnificent frigatebird traveled 1,400 km (870 mi) from French Guiana to Trinidad, and a male great frigatebird traveled 4,400 km (2,700 mi) from Europa Island in the Mozambique Channel to the Maldives. A magnificent frigatebird was sighted in 2015, even as far north as Michigan. [47] Although one was reported in Quezon City, Philippines, great frigatebirds identified by wing tags on Tern Island in the French Frigate Shoals were found to routinely travel the 873 km (542 mi) to Johnston Atoll. Despite their great mobility, genetic testing appears to show that the species remains faithful to the location of hatching. [48] Juvenile birds have been known to disperse over great distances—6,000 km (3,700 mi) in some cases. [43].


Where are frigate birds located?

The magnificent frigatebird is widespread in the tropical Atlantic, breeding colonially in trees in Florida, the Caribbean and also along the Pacific coast of the Americas from Mexico to Ecuador, including the Galápagos Islands.

Are frigate birds rare?

Three of the five extant species of frigatebirds are widespread (the magnificent, great and lesser frigatebirds), while two are endangered (the Christmas Island and Ascension Island frigatebirds) and restrict their breeding habitat to one small island each.

What is another name for a frigate bird?

The frigatebird is sometimes called the “man-o-war bird” because it harasses other birds until they regurgitate recently captured food, which the frigatebird snatches in midair.

Do frigate birds live in California?

Magnificent Frigatebird Fregata magnificens After fledging, a few immature Magnificent Frigatebirds sail north from their colonies in west- ern Mexico, crossing the international border and reaching southern California as rare visitors in sum- mer.