Magnificent frigatebirds eat mainly fish, as well as squid, jellyfish, and crustaceans. However, their diet can greatly vary due to food availability and preferred hunting technique. The three main hunting techniques are dipping, kleptoparasitism, and opportunistic feeding. When dipping, these birds gracefully glide just above the surface of the water and skim the surface with their beak to catch fish. However, they are only able to dip about 15 cm deep to avoid getting their feathers wet. Kleptoparasitism, the stealing of another animal’s food, is how this species gets one of their nicknames, "Man-'o-War". They chase other birds, particularly gulls, gannets, terns, and boobies. This chase continues until the victim is forced to disgorge their food. Magnificent frigatebirds then catch the disgorged food in mid air. They may also catch the other bird by the tail feathers and shake it until they release their food. Opportunistic feeding involves eating garbage, young turtles at hatching, and otherwise taking advantage of all available food sources. Magnificent frigatebirds eat fish scraps discarded by boats, offal (discarded parts of animals unfit for consumption) from slaughterhouses, and other garbage. Occasionally they steal food from the hands of humans. Females consume more than males because of their larger size and greater contribution to the feeding of hatchlings.
Animal Foods: fish; mollusks; aquatic crustaceans; cnidarians
Primary Diet: carnivore (Piscivore )
- Colixto-Albarrán, I., J. Orsorno. 2000. The Diet of the Magnificent Firgatebird During Chick Rearing. The Condor, 102/3: 569-576. Accessed April 11, 2006 at http://www.bioone.org.lib-proxy.nd.edu/perlserv/?request=get-document&issn=0010-5422&volume=102&page=569#page_top.
- Elphick, J. 2004. Birds: The Art of Ornithology. New York: Rizzoli.
- Osorno, J., R. Torres, C. Macias Garcia. 1992. Kleptoparasitic Behavior of the Magnificent Frigatebird: Sex and Bias and Success. The Condor, 94: 692-698. Accessed April 11, 2006 at http://www.jstor.org.lib-proxy.nd.edu/view/00105422/ap040506/04a00150/0?frame=frame&userIDemail@example.com/01cce4401e00509e6fe&dpi=3&config=jstor.