Frigatebirds are some of the most interesting birds I’ve come across in the Galapagos Islands. Even after multiple visits to the islands, I still have trouble telling apart the two species there (magnificent frigates and greater frigates). The colour variations are what give them away, but usually they just look all black to me, so it doesn’t help.
One thing that is easy to tell is whether it is a male or female frigatebird!
This is obviously a male frigatebird, thanks to his red pouch. Seeing these birds puff out their pouches while propped up in a nest, in hopes of attracting a mate, is quite the sight. When puffed up all the way, the shape of the red pouch is similar to a heart.
As females circle above cliffs in the Galapagos Islands, they choose their mate not only based on how impressive his red pouch is, but more on the quality and location of his nest. Of course he needs to get her attention first, so she’ll take a closer look, but it isn’t a case of the brightest or biggest is best.
Quality counts for the female frigates, and they can be quite picky! It means male frigatebirds can spend a lot of time, and energy, putting on a display in hopes of getting lucky.