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.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)
Curtis Brainard is Scientific American's Blog Editor. Prior to joining Scientific American, Brainard was a staff writer at Columbia Journalism Review, where he covered science, environment, and medical news. In 2008 he launched The Observatory, Columbia Journalism Review's first full-time department dedicated to critically analyzing science coverage in the media as well as the opportunities and challenges facing science journalists. Brainard is a member of the National Association of Science Writers and the Society of Environmental Journalists. In 2013 he was elected to serve on the executive board of the World Federation of Science Journalists. Brainard has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post and The New Yorker. He holds Master's degrees in environmental science and journalism from Columbia University in New York City, where he is an adjunct faculty member at the Graduate School of Journalism, home of the Pulitzer Prizes.