Great frigatebird

Great frigatebirds on the wing

A great frigatebird on the wingUsually I see this bird in ones or twos, but on this occasion, I saw a flock of 15 or more cruising along near the coast.

It’s known in Hawaii as the ’Iwa, which means ‘thief.’ It gets this name because it sometimes harasses other birds into dropping their catch, which it then swoops down to retrieve. Mostly though, it feeds on squid and flyingfish. Since it can’t take off from water, it scoops prey out with its hooked beak while on the wing.

The single bird pictured is a female, distinguished by the white breast and neck.

For more information about great frigatebirds, go to fws.gov/refuge/hawaiian_islands/wildlife_and_habitat/great_frigatebird.html.

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