Christmas Island frigatebird
These critically endangered seabirds are endemic to Christmas Island.
With a wingspan of up to 2.5 metres, they can be differentiated from the great frigatebird (a close relative) by the white patch on their belly.
The male has a bright red throat pouch (called a gular) that he blows up like a balloon to attract females during the mating season.
These frigatebirds fly vast distances to feed and are known for stealing the catch of other seabirds. They can be seen in Indonesia, but Christmas Island is the only place in the world where they breed, building nests in the forest canopy.
The breeding season for frigatebirds runs from January to September. Each pair produces a single egg, but you may see colonies of up to 40 nests in one tree.
Male frigatebird with gular. Photo: Wondrous World Images
Where to see them
Look for these large birds soaring over town or nesting in trees behind the golf course, Chinese cemetery and Smith Point.
Lydia’s big trip
Our most famous Christmas Island frigatebird was a hard-working mother nicknamed ‘Lydia’, one of a handful of frigatebirds fitted with a satellite tracking device by scientists.
In late 2005, Lydia took off on a marathon 26 day, 4000 km journey over sea and land to find food for her chick.
She flew to Sumatra, Java and Borneo before returning to her partner, baby and nesting site on Christmas Island. This is the longest known non-stop journey for one of these remarkable birds.