Resident of Galapagos, endemic subspecies magnificens. Population is estimated at 1000 pairs in about 12 colonies. Breeds throughout the year.
A large, dark, long-winged seabird with rakish flight and long, deeply forked tail. Slightly larger than very similar Great Frigatebird which is the only likely confusion species. ADULT MALE: Wholly black (apart from red gular sac); purplish sheen to mantle feathers, and black or brown legs and feet. In flight it is very difficult to distinguish from the Great Frigatebird, although it usually lacks the pale bar across the upperwing which is typical of Great Frigatebirds. ADULT FEMALE: Similar to male but breast is white. Can be distinguished by blue eye-ring. In flight it is very similar to Great Frigatebird but can be distinguished by the white breast and black throat and thin white lines on axillaries. JUVENILE: Resembles female but the head as well as breast are white.
Since birds do not reach maturity until their fourth year, gradually developing adult plumage during this period, a series of intermediate plumages occur, often making specific identification difficult. Immature birds do, however, often show some thin white lines on the axillaries.
Silent at sea, but male makes a drawn-out "oo-oo-oo…" sound when displaying at the breeding colony.
Generally feeds close inshore, mainly by kleptoparasiting passing seabirds, particularly Blue-footed Boobies. When displaying, males inflate their bright red gular sac like a balloon and call to attract females, at the same time vibrating their outstretched wings.