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Shameless Self-Inflation

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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christmas-island-frigate-bird Christmas Island frigate bird. Credit: Max Orchard, Parks Australia.

The Christmas Island frigatebirds (Fregata andrewsi) know how to call attention to themselves, especially the males, which inflate bright, red gular pouches on their necks to attract females. This critically endangered species, native to Australia, is number nine on a recently released list of the world’s 100 most endangered and unique birds, published in Current Biology, with only 2,400 to 4,800 adults left in the wild.

It’s a member of Fregatidae family of birds, which “boast the largest wingspan to body weight ratio in the world, which means it can stay happily aloft for more than a week at a time without rest,” according to Bec Crew of SciAm’s Running Ponies blog. “It’s also pretty great at performing kleptoparasitism, which means stealing food from other birds, so that’s something.”

Read more here: “Meet the Ten Most Endangered and Distinctive Birds in the World.”

Curtis Brainard About the Author: Curtis Brainard is the Blogs Editor at Scientific American. Follow on Twitter @cbrainard.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.



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  1. 1. SJCrum 5:33 pm 05/8/2014

    You know, the picture in this article is obviously of a male, and quite frankly, I have the very significant opinion, that actually is based on a good amount of previous observation and analysis, that this “blow-hard type of male image, has way too much truth in it. On the average, of course, but, my gosh, I have seen a whole lot of evidence that totally supports that. I even saw a male cardinal recently that chased a female cardinal off of my deck table where I was leaving bird seed for all of them to eat. The “beast” chased her sweet, little self off. The urge to shoot him got suppressed. Barely.
    Anyway, I couldn’t help making the comment.
    By the way, females, on the other hand, are totally, unpuffably, fantastically terrific. So there.

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  2. 2. SJCrum 5:51 pm 05/8/2014

    By the way, males doing the puffing up thing in the picture are not actually doing it to attract females. In truth, the females don’t like it at all. The real reason is the male is trying to scare all other males away, so, the complete dork can have any females who are still there. So, it’s just a puffed-up male thing. No kidding, got it straight from the science expert, female, of course. It actually scares females a bit also, so it’s not all that terrifically hot in the end. Clueless feather butts. It’s a bit hard to fly with the eagles when you have to work with puffer dorks.

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