Skip navigation
Go to home page > Species > Magnificent frigatebird

Magnificent frigatebird

Magnificent frigatebird
© Dr Sophia Cooke

Common name:

Magnificent frigatebird

Scientific name:

Fregata magnificens

Spanish name:

Fregata real de Galápagos

Conservation status:

Least Concern


Average lifespan:

15 - 25 years

Average size:

2.15 metres wingspan

Maximum size:

2.4 metres wingspan

Average weight:

1.1 kilograms

Maximum weight:

1.4 kilograms


The magnificent frigatebird has several nicknames. Charles Darwin called them ‘the condor of the oceans’ because they can spend days and nights at a time on the wing and have an exceptionally large wingspan; the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of any bird in the world. This body shape gives them exceptional aerial manoeuvrability and allows them to glide on thermals for days at a time. The Spanish would call them ‘pirate birds’ and ‘Man-o’-Wars’ due to their habit of stealing food from other birds. 

The male is all black with a purplish sheen on upper body feathers and a large red gular (throat pouch) which is inflated during the breeding season. The female is slightly larger and has a white breast and shoulder, as well as a blue eye-ring. The species is found across the tropics and it is estimated that the population in Galapagos could be several thousand pairs.

Magnificent frigatebirds in Galapagos

How you can help

Please help us protect the wildlife of Galapagos by donating today.

Read more about magnificent frigatebirds...

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.
Read more

Get the latest news from Galapagos

Join our mailing list to receive our monthly email newsletter, bringing you the latest news on Galapagos and our work to protect the Islands.

Share This Page