Ahoy! Frigatebird Chicks Are Cracking Open this Month!

Summer may be on its way out throughout much of the northern hemisphere, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop here in Galapagos! Nor does it ever have to stop, for that matter: there’s always something to be seen in Galapagos, no matter the time of year! What better way to celebrate the last days of summer than by checking out the cute hatchlings that belong to the frigatebirds of Galapagos! ‘Tis the season for frigatebird chicks!

Protection & Long-term Nourishment Are Paramount

After an extravagant courting ritual (see below) that can last anywhere from 2 to 3 months and a rather long incubation process that typically begins in March, frigatebirds in Galapagos (both magnificent and great) welcome their tiny counterparts to the family. These tiny frigatebirds look nothing like their parents upon hatching, instead they come out of with a soft and white down plumage that almost makes them look like the wrong baby to the wrong family.

Frigatebird Chick Spotted While Exploring Galapagos.
One Of Many Frigatebird Chicks During Hatching Season.

Nevertheless, the parents know it’s theirs and do their utmost to protect their tiny frigatebird chick at all cost, making sure that any opportunistic eaters don’t swoop down and seize their young on the off-chance that they’re not present. Both parents take turns heading outwards in search of food while the other guards the fledgling. This process goes on for anywhere from 5 to 6 months before the father frigatebird spreads his wings and flies off for good, leaving the mother to take care of the young bird (feeding it, mostly) for the remaining six to nine months.

Beauty is on the Pouch of the Beholder

Rewind a couple of months, and you’ll come across what is perhaps regarded as one of the most extravagant and winged displays of courtship throughout the Galapagos. Male frigatebirds tend to attract their female counterparts by inflating their bright-red pouch into considerable sizes.

These gular sucks, which end up looking more like leathery balloons by the time they reach their maximum size, dot entire breeding colonies during earlier months throughout the year, when food supplies are at the highest levels of abundance. Magnificent and great frigatebirds are opportunistic breeders, and consequently, they only mate when conditions are satisfactory for mating.

Why inflate the iconic red pouch? Well, it turns out that females have a knack for males with the largest and most vivid and saturated hues of red, using it as a marker for what male deserves their attention and, with any luck, their fertility.

Galapagos Frigatebird Showing Its Gular Sac.
Galapagos Frigatebird Displaying Its Attributes.

Males not only inflate their pouches but also partake in an amusing and energized display that involves extending and vibrating their wings while tilting their head from side-to-side sporadically. Should their gambit be adequate enough, the female will descend from the skies and pick the mate she thinks is best.

Our Western and Northern Galapagos itineraries allow guests to get up close to the frigatebirds (both great and magnificent and a BIG15 species) throughout the archipelago. 

Updated:May 30, 2023

Published:August 14, 2017


Machu Picchu & Galapagos Islands Tour 2024 Package: 12 days / Quito, Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu / From USD 9,598 per person




Condé Nast Traveler ONLINE

This small, secret rooftop of the restored Casa Gangotena mansion peers over Plaza San Francisco in the center of Quito’s colonial Old Town, the world’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Order a Cedrón Spritz, a refreshing mix of rum, lemon, sparkling wine, and fresh lemon verbena (cedrón) syrup and leaf, then revel in the mesmerizing, real-time montage of daily life in Ecuador’s capital as it parades past.

National Geographic Traveller

A Font of information, Klaus has spent decades in the field, leading tours in the Amazon, Andes and Galapagos Islands. He hung up his guiding boots a few years back and now creates itineraries for the tour operator, Metropolitan Touring. Adrift in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from mainland South America, Galapagos is one of the most biodiverse locales on Earth.

Cruise Critic

Santa Cruz II is a replacement for the much-loved Santa Cruz, which plied the waters of the Galapagos for 36 years. It is not a new ship; it was built in 2002 and sailed as Mare Australis under the Australis cruise brand, operating expedition cruises around Cape Horn and to Antarctica. Metropolitan Touring bought the ship in 2015 and completely refurbished it, launching it as Santa Cruz II in October 2015.

Telegraph Ultra Travel: 50 Greatest Hotels in the World

When this modern, minimalist, glass-walled jungle lodge opened in 2012, it changed the accommodation game in South America. Arquitect Alfredo Ribadeneira’s “protective cocoon” would impress in a modern city; in the depths of an Andean cloudforest, it is wild, audacious and beautiful. Though only 70 miles from Quito, Maspi Lodge sits in splendid isolation, perched on a cliff at the end of an unsealed road.

Terms and Conditions

Itinerario de 5 días / 4 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (4214 USD + impuestos por persona)
Itinerario de 7 días / 6 noches: Basado en la tarifa regular (5672 USD + impuestos por persona)
No reembolsable. Aplica únicamente para residentes ecuatorianos en nuevas reservas directas realizadas, hasta el 30 de junio del 2022, con un ejecutivo de ventas del hotel. Válido para estadías hasta el 31 de agosto de 2022. No puede ser combinada con otros descuentos, promociones u ofertas. El descuento no aplica para otros servicios. El precio no incluye recargo de combustible de $20 por noche de crucero.

We have what you are looking for!