Family Frigatebirds (Fregatidae)

Least Concern

Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens)


French: Frégate superbe German: Prachtfregattvogel Spanish: Rabihorcado magnífico

Fregata minor magnificens


, 1914,

Santa Fe Island, Galapagos Archipelago


Formerly included in F. aquila or sometimes in F. minor. Galapagos population has been suggested to merit treatment as a separate species, on basis of morphological and genetic data#R; at the other extreme, races lowei and rothschildi, supposedly separable on length of wing, tail or bill, have commonly not been accepted; further study required. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • F. m. rothschildi Mathews, 1915 – islands off America, on Pacific coast from NW Mexico (Baja California) to Ecuador, and on Atlantic coast from Florida to S Brazil.
  • F. m. magnificens Mathews, 1914 – Galapagos Is.
  • F. m. lowei Bannerman, 1927 – Cape Verde Is, in E Atlantic Ocean.
  • Descriptive notes

    89–114 cm; c. 1100–1587 g; wingspan 217–244 cm. Largest, longest-billed species. Adult male is black, with noticeable purple gloss on scapulars, the gloss... read more


    Usually silent away from breeding colonies. Calls at nest include several rather gull-like grating... read more


    Tropical and subtropical seas, breeding on coasts and also small islands; nests often in mangroves... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly flying fish (Exocoetidae), and squid (Ommastrephidae) of 5–11 cm; also other fish e.g. menhaden (Brevoortia), and... read more


    Laying recorded all year round, with preference for local dry season, which often coincides with onset of trade winds. Possibly unique in... read more


    Sedentary, with dispersal of immatures and non-breeders;. Dispersal may be long-distance, over 1000... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). World population probably several hundred thousand birds; main threats are habitat destruction and disturbance, in some cases also... read more

    Recommended citation

    Orta, J., Christie, D.A., Garcia, E.F.J. & Boesman, P. (2019). Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 March 2019).