Sunday Inspiration – Frigatebirds, Gannets and the Booby

Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii) by Ian

Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii) by Ian

“He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.” (Psalms 121:3 KJV)

We are introducing you to the Suliformes Order which has four families. The first two families are fairly small, so we will cover them today.

Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) ©USFWS

The Frigatebirds belong to the Fregatidae Family and only have one genus, the Fregata. There are five species, the Ascension, Christmas, Magnificent, Great, and the Lesser Frigatebirds.

Frigatebirds (also listed as “frigate bird”, “frigate-bird”, “frigate”, frigate-petrel”) are found across all tropical and subtropical oceans. The five extant species are classified in a single genus, Fregata. All have predominantly black plumage, long, deeply forked tails and long hooked bills. Females have white underbellies and males have a distinctive red gular pouch, which they inflate during the breeding season to attract females. Their wings are long and pointed and can span up to 2.3 metres (7.5 ft), the largest wing area to body weight ratio of any bird.

Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel) imm. by Ian

Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel) immature by Ian

Able to soar for weeks on wind currents, frigatebirds spend most of the day in flight hunting for food, and roost on trees or cliffs at night. Their main prey are fish and squid, caught when chased to the water surface by large predators such as tuna. Frigatebirds are referred to as kleptoparasites as they occasionally rob other seabirds for food, and are known to snatch seabird chicks from the nest. Seasonally monogamous, frigatebirds nest colonially. A rough nest is constructed in low trees or on the ground on remote islands. A single egg is laid each breeding season. The duration of parental care is among the longest of any bird species; frigatebirds are only able to breed every other year.

Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus) by W Kwong

Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus) by W Kwong

The Gannets and Boobies make up the Sulidae Family. The bird family Sulidae comprises the gannets and boobies. Collectively called sulids, they are medium-large coastal seabirds that plunge-dive for fish and similar prey. However, Sula (true boobies) and Morus (gannets) can be readily distinguished by morphological and behavioral and DNA sequence characters. Abbott’s booby (PapaIt appears to be a distinct and ancient lineage, maybe closer to the gannets than to the true boobies. There are 10 species. The Morus genus has three species, the Northern, Cape and Australasian Gannets.

Abbott's Booby (Papasula abbotti) by Ian

Abbott’s Booby (Papasula abbotti) by Ian

The Papasula genus consists of only the Abbott’s Booby.

Red-footed Booby (Sula sula) by Bob-Nan

Red-footed Booby (Sula sula) by Bob-Nan

The rest of the Boobies are in the Sula genus.  They are the Blue-footed Booby [a favorite], Peruvian Booby, Masked Booby, Nazca Booby, Red-footed Booby [another favorite], and the Brown Booby. [Wikipedia, with editing]

 

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“Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.” (Psalms 17:5 KJV)


“My Faith Still Holds” ~ Faith Baptist Church Orchestra
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More Sunday Inspirations

Assurance: The Certainty of Salvation
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Ian’s Bird of the Week – Masked Booby

Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) by Ian

Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Masked Booby ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 5/20/11

We got a good view of a female Lesser Frigatebird at Lucinda on Wednesday when we did our regular wader count so I considered this species for bird of the week, forgetting that it had featured in March. So here is another spectacular seabird instead: the Masked Booby.

Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) by Ian

Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) by Ian

The first photo shows a portrait of a male bird, distinguishable from the female by its yellow bill. That of the female, second photo, has a greenish tinge to it. As you can see from these photos, Boobies are very approachable and the name comes from the Spanish ‘bobo’ meaning clown or fool as sailors found the birds easy to catch.

Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) by Ian

Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) by Ian

The difference between the sexes is subtle though the female is larger and they are easier to tell apart when seen together, like the pair in the third photo on a beach. Boobies and Gannets are very social and have sophisticated behaviours for display, territorial disputes and fishing so the ‘bobo’ label was a bit hasty.

Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) by Ian

Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) by Ian

All these photos were taken at East Diamond Islet, a remote cay on the eastern edge of the Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea Islands Territory, within Australia’s territorial boundaries but outside Queensland. This cay is typical of Masked Booby colonies, far offshore in tropical or sub-tropical waters, and the birds fish in deep water and are not normally seen close to the coast. The range of the Masked Booby is right around the globe and in Australasia there are colonies in northern Western Australia, northeastern Queensland, Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands and the New Zealand Kermadec Islands. The birds at the last three sites have black rather than yellow eyes and belong to a different race. Another race in the eastern Pacific with orange bills has recently been split off as a separate species the Nazca Booby.

Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) by Ian

Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) by Ian

Masked Boobies nest both on rocky cliffs and flat areas and the female in the fourth photo is sheltering a nestling and simultaneously expressing a verbal protest at being photographed. They usually lay two eggs, but the second is only an insurance policy and the first nestling to hatch will kill its sibling if it also hatches. Juvenile birds, fifth photo, look quite similar to the closely related Brown Booby but are distinguishable by having a complete white collar which in front forms a white rather than brown upper breast.

Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) by Ian

Masked Booby (Sula dactylatra) by Ian

The sixth photo is of a male in flight and shows the black tail that distinguishes it from the white phase of the Red-footed Booby. Like all the gannets and other boobies, the Masked feeds by spectacular plunge-dives for fish, all members of the family have air sacs off the bronchi to absorb the impact – the original airbags. The Masked is the largest of the boobies (to 86cm/34in with a wing-span of 1.7m/5.5ft) and its maximum dive has been estimated at 100m/330ft though it’s smaller than the gannets. Gannets can reach 10m/33ft depth just from the dive and then swim down to 20-25m and usually take the target fish on the way back up.

Links:
Wednesday’s female Lesser Frigatebird
Nazca Booby
Brown Booby
Red-footed Booby

Here are a couple of points from earlier postings. Last week I had an email from Brett who reported the northern race of the Eastern Yellow Robin at St George’s Basin, 200km south of Sydney and well south of the documented range to the Hunter Valley. He – brett@brettdaviswebsitedesign.com.au – would be interested to hear from others who have recorded it south of its supposed range. A month ago (Yellow White-eye) I inquired about a plant with large fruits and pink flowers. The plant in question is calotrope (Calotropis procera) – thank you to the respondents – an introduced weed, but popular with native birds such as this Red-headed Honeyeater in Broome.

Best wishes,
Ian


Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: 0411 602 737 +61-411 602 737
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au


Lee’s Addition:

The Sulidae – Gannets, Boobies Family has 10 species. The three Gannets are the Northern, Cape, and Australian. The seven Boobies are the Blue-footed and Red-footed, Peruvian, Nazca, Brown and the Masked Booby which Ian just wrote about. This family is part of the Suliformes Order which also includes the Frigatebirds, Cormorants, shags and the Anhingas, darters families.

Talking about the young one and the nest of the ground reminds me of:

If you come across a bird’s nest in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. (Deuteronomy 22:6 ESV)

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Lesser Frigatebird

 

Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel) male by Ian

Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel) male by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Lesser Frigatebird ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter – 3/2/11

This is the third of the post-cyclone Yasi birds of the week. The first dealt with survival of small birds; the second with birds like fruit-doves that move after the cyclone in search of food. Another category of birds greatly affected by cyclones are seabirds, particularly those that spend much time on the wing and these often appear in places where they are not usually seen or get blown inland, sometimes over great distances.

The Lesser Frigatebird is common in oceanic waters of northern Australia and breeds in colonies both on the northern mainland and on cays and islands. Adult birds are normally sedentary, remaining in the vicinity of the colonies, though immature birds may travel widely over the oceans. Frigatebirds not normally seen in places like Townsville, distant from breeding colonies, except after cyclones and cyclone Yasi was no exception with both Great and Lesser Frigatebirds being recorded along the coast. I was surprised to see a pair of Lesser Frigatebirds near my place at Bluewater, 11km from the coast and the birds looked quite out of place soaring over the hills south of the house.
Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel) female by Ian

Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel) female by Ian

Lesser Frigatebirds are easily distinguished in all plumages from Great Frigatebirds by having white ‘armpits’ or spurs. The first photo shows a male bird, black except for these spurs and male Great Frigatebirds are entirely black. Male Frigatebirds have inflatable red throat pouches used to spectacular effect in displays (for example this male Magnificent Frigatebird in Ecuador: http://www.birdway.com.au/fregatidae/magnificent_frigatebird/source/magnif_frigatebird_27662.htm ). The second photo shows a female Lesser Frigatebird and the third an immature one.
Frigatebirds are huge. Even the Lesser, the smallest of the 5 global species, is 70-80cm/28-32in. in length with a wingspan of 1.8-1.9m/5.9-6.2 feet. They are very light for their size, having very light bones, and are adapted to soaring effortlessly in the trade winds where they are usually found. They are famous as pirates, forcing other seabirds, particularly boobies, to disgorge their prey ( http://www.birdway.com.au/fregatidae/greater_frigatebird/source/greater_frigatebird_39356.htm ), but they are also adept fishers in their own right, snatching flying fish in flight and other fish and cuttlefish from the surface of the water. They have tiny feet, useful only for perching in trees when nesting or roosting and quickly become water-logged if forced to land on water which they normally avoid. They will bathe and drink fresh water in flight ( http://www.birdway.com.au/fregatidae/greater_frigatebird/source/greater_frigatebird_40675.htm ).
Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel) imm. by Ian

Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel) imm. by Ian

11km from the coast is nothing to a frigatebird and it is likely that cyclone-distributed frigatebirds can find their way home (like swifts, they often take advantage of storm fronts). Less fortunate perhaps was the Petrel recorded post-Yasi on the Atherton Tableland by Alan Gillanders, though the record for Yasi goes to a Bridled Tern rescued ‘in bad shape’ in Alice Springs by Chris Watson, probably as far away from the ocean as you can get in Australia.

The latest addition to the website is a taxonomic index of Australian birds ( http://www.birdway.com.au/aus_taxonomic.htm ), showing Orders and Families and with links to the 97 of 103 families of Australian birds represented on the website. The 6 unrepresented families are also shown but lack links. Some of these missing families are merely rare vagrants such as Northern Storm-Petrels and Leaf Warblers (the Arctic Warbler) or introductions like the Ostrich but others such as Penguins (there are only photos of African Penguins) are to be regretted and I hope to rectify this before the year is out. The other two – Scrub-birds and Sheathbills – are in the very hard baskets, and I can’t make any promises. If classification is your thing, this page is for you and you can find it under the grey navigation button ‘Indices to Australian Birds’ formerly singular. There are also instructions on the home page: http://www.birdway.com.au/index.htm#news .
Best wishes,
Ian

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au

Lee’s Addition:

The birds of the air, And the fish of the sea That pass through the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth! (Psalms 8:8-9 NKJV)

The frigatebirds are a family, Fregatidae, of seabirds. There are five species in the single genus Fregata. They are also sometimes called Man of War birds or Pirate birds. Since they are related to the pelicans, the term “frigate pelican” is also a name applied to them. They have long wings, tails and bills and the males have a red gular pouch that is inflated during the breeding season to attract a mate. They are part of the Suliformes Order.

Frigatebirds are pelagic piscivores which obtain most of their food on the wing. A small amount of their diet is obtained by robbing other seabirds, a behavior that has given the family its name, and by snatching seabird chicks. Frigatebirds are seasonally monogamous, and nest colonially. A rough nest is constructed in low trees or on the ground on remote islands. A single egg[citation needed] is laid each breeding season. The duration of parental care in frigatebirds is the longest of any bird.

Frigatebirds are found over tropical oceans and ride warm updrafts. Therefore, they can often be spotted riding weather fronts and can signal changing weather patterns.

These birds do not swim and cannot walk well, and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week, landing only to roost or breed on trees or cliffs. (Wikipedia)

Dan and I had the privilege of see a Magnificent Frigatebird flying over Ding Darling NWR.

I.O.C. World Bird List Version 2.6 Update Complete

Black-girdled Barbet (Capito dayi) ©CC

Black-girdled Barbet (Capito dayi) ©CC

Finally got the site updated to the I.O.C. World Bird List Version 2.6. Fell behind because of our trip to Indiana. Now it is up to date. (I think!)

With the IOC adding a new Order:

Suliformes which pulled the Frigatebirds, Gannets, Cormorants and Anhingas out of the Pelecaniformes Order

and adding new Families:

Capitonidae-New World Barbets

Semnornithidae-Toucan Barbets

Pnoepygidae-Wren-babblers

Macrosphenidae-Crombecs and African Warblers

Pellorneidae-Fulvettas & Ground Babblers

Leiothrichidae-Laughingthrushes

With all those changes and the others they made, I trust this site is functioning with out too many errors. Had to add new pages and rearrange lots of  others. Tried to be cautious, but if you find any errors on the links, please leave a comment so it can be fixed.

Thanks for any understanding of mistakes. Haven’t arrived yet to perfection.

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:57-58 KJV)

New I.O.C. 2.6 Version is Out

Large Grey Babbler (Turdoides malcolmi) by Ian

Large Grey Babbler (Turdoides malcolmi) by Ian

The newest version of the I.O.C list of birds has been released. Version 2.6 has made quite a few changes. It was released on October 23rd and I have started making the changes to the Birds of the World pages. (One reason I haven’t posted much.) Also making “Kindle-friendly” changes (see below).

When I started with version 2.1 there were 10,340 birds and now they have 10,417 (up from 10,396-ver. 2.5) The families have been increasing also from 224 to 222 to now 233. The ornithologist love to change things around and split and lump the species. Now they have added a new Order (from 39 to 40).

They have already start planning for the 2.7 version. Talk about change. For every change they make every 3 months or so, I have to update this website. This new version is going to call for new pages to be made for that new Order and the new Families, plus the spelling changes. Not complaining, just explaining why the guest writers may be posting more than me.

As for the birds, they are for the most part, the same. It is just how the ornithologist look at them. Some grew a new colored feather and they gave it a new name, and some lost a feather and now it is put back into another group. (Just kidding.) They do work very hard in trying to figure what bird belongs where. The DNA studies that are ongoing are letting them see that the birds are related in different ways than they thought.

So God created … every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. (Genesis 1:21-23 ESV)

We do know that God told the birds to multiply and fill the earth and they are doing that within their kinds. Luckily, they don’t have to keep up with charts and list and web pages. They just keep looking for the next meal and raising their families.

Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii) by Bob-Nan

Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii) by Bob-Nan

The new Order is Suliformes which includes the Frigatebirds-Fregatidae; Gannets, Boobies-Sulidae; Cormorants, Shags-Phalacrocoracidae; and the Anhingas, Darters-Anhingidae Families. (As I make the pages, a link will be provided here)

Another major change is they divided the Babblers into 5 Families -(Timaliidae, Pellorneidae, Leiothrichidae, Sylviidae, Zosteropidae). So I will be busy making and changing pages for awhile. All together the IOC: added 22 species, deleted 1; made 19 English Name changes; changed 16 Ranges; and made 180 Taxonomy changes including the new Order and the new Families mentioned.

Also, as I am making changes, I am making the pages “Kindle-friendly.” I recently got a Kindle that has 3G on it and found out that it will not let you open links, photos, or articles in a New Tab or New Window. As the pages are reworked, I am fixing those links, photos, and articles that link (internal) to this site so that they will Open in the Same Window. All the new articles in the last week or so have also been made “Kindle-friendly.” There are over 1,000 blogs and pages here, so don’t expect it to be changed over night.

Birds of the World (Internal link)

I.O.C Worldbirdnames.org (Not internal link)

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