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Frigate birds are one of the most impressive bird species that inhabit the Sea of Cortez. These seabirds are known for their aerial abilities and unique physical features, which make them stand out from other bird species in the region.
One of the most striking characteristics of frigate birds is their wingspan, which can reach up to 8 feet. This impressive size allows them to stay in flight for long periods, soaring over the ocean searching for prey. Unlike other seabirds, frigates do not have waterproof feathers, which means they cannot dive underwater to catch fish. Instead, they rely on their exceptional eyesight to spot schools of fish from high above and then swoop down to catch them with their sharp beaks.
Another curious aspect of frigates is their mating behavior. During the breeding season, males inflate their red throat pouches to attract females. The larger and brighter the pouch, the more attractive the male is to potential mates. This display is not only impressive to watch but also serves as an indication of the bird's health and fitness.
We have a frigate rookery on Isla Espiritu Santo in San Gabriel Bay where birders may watch these amazing creatures through binoculars but may not land or get close to them. Unfortunately, frigates have been known to abandon their nests if humans get too close. See related article: Pearls of San Gabriel Bay.
Frigate birds are known for their nomadic lifestyle, often traveling hundreds of miles in search of food and suitable breeding grounds. This makes them a common sight in the Sea of Cortez, with their bent back wings looking for all the world like a modern jet. They can be seen soaring over the blue waters or perching on rocky cliffs and the ubiquitous islands of the inside sea.