Frigatebirds are an aggressive bird with a reputation for stealing food from any other bird, as it returns from the sea. Various sources call them pirate birds or condors of the sea. They seem to eat anything. Their aggressive nature was also displayed towards neighboring nests, and it appeared to include unattached males seeking to displace other males from a nest. The male seen below landed near the couple on the nest and displayed what he likely considered a superior inflated pouch. Note the colors on his neck hackles.
The intruder neither intimidated the male, nor evoked any visible interest from the female partner. A stare-down developed.
A physical conflict soon developed. The female seemed impassive to the fight as it progressed.
The conflict continued beak-to-beak with no way of knowing which one was winning.
The fight ended with no apparent knock-out blow, as the intruder suddenly abandoned the fight. There was no victory celebration, and the female was as impassive as ever. Some degree of calm returned.
The breeding appears to be spread out over a span of time; we saw a mix of courting pairs, small chicks and much larger chicks. The female lays a single egg. An adult guards the lone chick for the first weeks, but as it gains size both adults go to sea for food, and it is left alone to await a feeding visit. So it was that we came upon nests that had a single chick of pretty good size. Many chicks were panting in the intense equatorial sun and alertly watching the sky, likely looking for an adult returning with food. The chick below is seen to be shedding its down for juvenile feathers.
A visit to the Galapagos is done with the requirement that you do not to interfere with nature's processes, and that you stay on the trails to minimize your impact. This chick will not be returned to its nest, nor even approached. That hands-off policy is a key to keeping the islands true to their heritage. There appears to be no shortage of Frigatebirds.