Magnificent Frigatebird plumages (Tropical Storm Lee Part 2)
Magnificent Frigatebirds (Fregata magnificens) are highly aerial seabirds, able to stay aloft for several days at a time on spectacular 7- to 8-foot wingspans. Tropical storms and hurricanes often push them far inland, and indeed, slow-moving Tropical Storm Lee pushed frigatebirds all across southern Louisiana and Mississippi in early September.
Saturday morning, September 3, more than 40 frigatebirds appeared on a lake on Louisiana State University’s campus. James Maley reported them first, and birders converged. The birds were very accessible, offering an excellent opportunity to observe and photograph plumage features (in between rain bands, that is).
The Birds of North America species account pretty well sums up what is and isn’t known about Magnificent Frigatebird plumages, which are complex and develop over several years. Of course, also present in the back of our minds is the wildly remote possibility of detecting one of the other frigatebird species, but I didn’t see or photograph any birds that looked suspicious.