Panorama: frigate bird mating area

Title Info
Common name Frigatebird, Great
Scientific name Fregata minor
Taxonomic group Fregatidae
Source Dan L. Perlman
Ecosystems Wetlands, aquatic
Wetlands and aquatic Oceans, seas
Selection and adaptations Selection
Selection Morphology
Behavior Mating; Social
Animals Birds
Lessons Panoramas
Date March 11, 2010
Location Genovesa Island,Galápagos Islands,Ecuador,South America
Panorama of frigate bird mating area, Galápagos Islands
Related materials: Panoramas;Galápagos
You may want to discuss with your students different types of mating systems, one of which is displayed in this panorama. These frigatebirds, like certain other birds, mammals, and insects, have a lek mating system, in which a number of males gather together and display to attract females, who can pick and choose among the males for a partner. In contrast, the sea lions (seen in another panorama) have a mating sysetm in which a single male monopolizes the mating efforts of a large number of females. How do these two mating systems differ from the perspectives of the females and the males?

Panorama Viewing: Click the "View Panorama" button to see an interactive panorama. Click and drag your mouse in any direction to view other parts of the scene; press the Shift key to zoom in to see details and press Ctrl to zoom out.
We recommend using the Deval VR viewer for seeing panoramas that do NOT have sound and the QuickTime viewer for panoramas WITH sound.

Great frigatebirds, Fregata minor, are remarkable for many aspects of their biology. These large birds (their wingspan can be over 2m or 2yd) create very simple nests on low bushes, typically in high densities. Males gather in a mating area called a lek, inflate their large red gular sacs (a process that takes 20-30 minutes), and watch for females flying overhead. When they see a likely candidate, they spread their wings, begin shaking their bodies, and emit a warbling, ululating call. If sufficiently impressed, the female selects one of the males with which to mate. If none of the males gets chosen, they all sit and watch for another female for whom to display.