Great frigatebird

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The great frigatebird (Fregata minor) belongs to the family Fregatidae. The great frigatebird species is distributed in Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea, Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean.

Taxonomy of Great frigatebird

  • Scientific Name: Fregata minor
  • Common Name: Great frigatebird
  • French: Fr├ęgate du Pacifique German: Bindenfregattvogel Spanish: Rabihorcado grande;
  • Other names: Pelecanus minor J. F. Gmelin, 1789;
  • Family: Fregatidae › Suliformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: (Gmelin, 1789)
Fregata minor species was earlier included in the genus Pelecanus. It was formerly included in F. aquila. It is closely related to the Christmas Island frigatebird (F. andrewsi). The five recognized subspeices are: F. m. aldabrensis Mathews, 1914, F. m. minor (J. F. Gmelin, 1789), F. m. palmerstoni (J. F. Gmelin, 1789), F. m. ridgwayi Mathews, 1914 and F. m. nicolli Mathews, 1914.

Indian birds - Great frigatebird - Fregata minor
Indian birds - Great frigatebird - Fregata minor


The great frigatebird species is a large bird, the male measuring 80 to 100cm in length and weighing 1,000 to 1,450 grams. The female frigatebird is larger than the male and weighs 1,200 to 1,650 grams. The wingspan is 180 to 230 cm. The plumage is mostly black. The female has white feathers on the throat and chest. The male scapular feathers have a purple-green sheen. The gular sac in the male is distensible and is strikingly bright red in color.


The great frigatebird species gather for breeding in remote islands and nest in mangroves or bushes and occasionally on the bare ground. Non-breeding frigatebirds wander in the open seas in search of feed.

Feeding habits

The great frigatebird species feed on pelagic waters, catching squids, flying fish and other fish. They are known for snatching feed from other birds. They also prey on chicks of seabirds.


The great frigatebird species are seasonally monogamous. They nest on the trees, bushes and also on the ground in the absence of vegetation. The male great frigatebird collects the nesting material and the female constructs the nest. The female lays a single egg. Both the parents take part in incubating the egg and rearing the chick.


The subspecies F. m. aldabrensis is distributed in western Indian Ocean. The subspecies F. m. minor occurs in Indian Ocean, Southeast Asian seas and South Pacific Ocean. The subspecies F. m. palmerstoni occurs in Central and Western Pacific Ocean. The subspecies F. m. ridgwayi is distributed in Eastern Pacific Ocean. The subspecies F. m. nicolli occurs in South Atlantic Ocean.

Movement Patterns

The great frigatebird has a wide distribution throughout the world’s tropical seas. They come to the land for breeding in colonies in remote islands. Once the chick raising is over, the great frigatebirds disperse widely and migrate for long distances. They come back to same colonies for breeding.

Status and conservation

The population size of these frigatebirds is large and are least vulnerable. Human activity in the breeding habitats and fishing activities near the breeding habitats are the threats for their survival.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these frigatebird species and has listed them as of "Least Concern".

Biological classification of Fregata minor
Species:F. minor
Binomial name:Fregata minor
Distribution:Indian Ocean, Asian seas, Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean;
Feeding habits:squid, flying fish and other fish;
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern

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