In their larger colonies, both species nest near each other. Males’ impressive red gullar sacks – which inflate to bright red heart-shaped balloons – are among the most eyecatching feature of Galapagos breeding colonies. It takes around a half hour for the sacks to inflate.
While our guides will help you pick out which is which, great frigate males inflate a slightly shorter gullar sack, but of a warmer red colour. Additionally, male great frigates have a green sheen on their shoulder plumage, while magnificent males have a purple sheen. The easiest to tell apart are juveniles and females: Magnificent frigate females have a black triangle of feathers running down from the base of the chin to the centre of their white chests.
As a result, a white “M” is visible from below. Great frigate females have white all the way up their chins. Juvenile magnificent frigates have a white head, while great frigate juveniles have a rusty tone. All Galapagos locations will have frigatebirds flying around, and top places to see their nesting colonies include San Cristóbal, Española, and Genovesa Islands.
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