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Great frigatebird

Great frigatebird
© Trevor Platt

Common name:

Great frigatebird

Scientific name:

Fregata minor

Spanish name:

Fregata grande

Conservation status:

Least Concern


Average lifespan:

30 - 35 years

Average size:

2.2 metres wingspan

Maximum size:

2.3 metres wingspan

Average weight:

1.3 kilograms


The great frigatebird is found across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, with a small population also in the South Atlantic. It is one of two frigatebird species found in Galapagos. Great and magnificent frigatebirds look very similar – both have black plumage, and the males have red throat pouches. However, male great frigatebirds have a green sheen on the plumage on their backs whereas magnificent frigatebirds have a purple sheen. Female frigatebirds are larger than males and have white breasts. Juveniles have white chests and heads. 

The large wingspan of great frigatebirds allows them to soar over the ocean, rarely flapping their wings. However, on land they are more clumsy, with their short legs making it nearly impossible for them to walk. Their plumage isn’t waterproof so if they get wet, they must dry their feathers in the sun with wings fully extended, like a cormorant, before they can fly again.

Great frigatebirds in Galapagos

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Read more about great frigatebirds...

11th Aug 2016

Research into how the Great frigatebird sleeps while flying

The Galapagos National Park has published the results of a study undertaken by a talented international team of researchers to study the endemic great frigatebird of Galapagos (Fregata minor).
Read more
27th Jan 2016
Wildlife facts

Frigatebirds are both Great and Magnificent

There are five species of frigatebird found across the world in all sub-tropical and tropical oceans.
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