The Frigate Bird

Enigmatic creature with a love for flying fish!

Frigate Bird Sleeps on the Wing

When you gaze out across the water from a Barbados beach you may spot something circling above the sea. High up, in ones or twos, a strange looking bird, sometimes with a forked tail.

This enigmatic creature can remain aloft for months, sleeping on the wing, roving far and high across the ocean, then swooping down to snatch a fish from the surface of the water.

And while airborne, it’s not too much of a flight of fancy to compare the frigate bird to the prehistoric pterodactyl. After all, scientists say birds are thought to have evolved from dinosaurs.

frigate bird
frigate bird
frigate bird
A pterodactyl, not a frigate bird. It’s an artist’s impression as no photos were available…

For home page, click on frigate bird!

The frigate bird was chosen to star in the secretbarbados.com logo because of its elegant, yet mysterious shape. And like the Bajans, it loves flying fish. It follows marauding tuna, dorado and dolphins around in the hope that flying fish will take to the air to escape. For the unfortunate fish, the frigate bird awaits.

But the frigate bird must be careful not to get swamped by the waves. Amazingly, despite its watery surroundings, its feathers are not waterproof and it will die if the wings get wet. For the same reason, the birds cannot rest on the water.

As a result, it stays airborne riding air currents above the ocean. These strong updrafts, often found under cumulus clouds, can take them two miles high from where they can drift for over 40 miles before they reach another updraft.

 A Lucky Bird

The frigate bird also robs other birds, using speed and agility to outrun and harass victims, forcing them to regurgitate their food. It then snatches the meal before it hits the water.  

Sailors have long considered the birds to be good luck as they are a harbinger of land. French sailors named it after the fast sailing ships known as frigates. The English called it a Man-Of-War.

It’s also known as the Cobbler bird.

While it is not unique to Barbados – it is found elsewhere in the Caribbean and around the earth’s tropical belt – readers of secretbarbados.com can now identify the frigate bird at sea – and in our logo on the pages of our website!

For home page, click on frigate bird!

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