Friday, April 08, 2016


Mazatlán is like Campbell River; a long strip, 21 km. long (the same for both places), along the shore. Campbell River (pop. 31,000) has a seawalk; Mazatlán (pop. 500,000) has the Malecón, a wide, paved walkway along the full 21 kilometres of the shore.

About halfway down this strip, fisher people have set up tables where they clean and sell fresh fish. Their "customers" include flocks of gulls and pelicans waiting for scraps; Magnificent Frigatebirds soar overhead or rest on the light posts on the boardwalk.

Female frigatebird, about 40 inches long

Soaring. The wingspan reaches up to 8 feet, about the same as a large eagle's.

Watching the fish seller below.

Almost all white belly and head. This one's showing her feet.

The tail has two yellowish stripes, the feet are pinkish blue, the eyes black.

Two frigatebirds and a gull. The bird on the right has a brown head; most of those I saw had white heads.

Frigatebirds spend most of their time in the air; they are remarkably flexible in flight.

Every frigatebird id site I looked at shows a photo of a male with his bright red inflated gular sac at the throat. I didn't see any of these, and none shows up in my photos. The explanation may be that the males mate in the fall and winter, stay with their females for a short while, then retire to molt before they return for the next breeding season (and a new female; last year's mate is busy with her chick for another year). So all the birds present on the Malecon this week would be females and immatures.

Females are black, but have a white breast and lower neck sides, a brown band on the wings, and a blue eye-ring that is diagnostic of the female of the species. Immature birds have a white head and underparts. (Wikipedia)

The blue eye-ring is visible on the first and third photos above, and slightly, on the brown-headed bird sharing her perch with a gull and a youngster.


  1. We flew our plane to Mazatlan a couple of times. One time when we landed we were met by a teenage-looking boy carrying an automatic rifle draped over his shoulder. At the time my Spanish was much better (I worked in the East Los Angeles area). I chatted with him a bit while he gave the plane a quick search and then walked us to a place to register. Of course, tips were spread around and they agreed to keep an eye on our plane. Not sure about now, but in the 1980s it was a pretty busy drug smuggling spot. Even so we had lots of fun soaking up the sun on the beach and checking out what the vendors had for sale. Glad you are having such a great trip. - Margy

  2. My first time seeing them in flight, I thought they resembled pterodactyls. Welcome home!

  3. Such beautiful birds! I know I will never get to see them, so these photos are a fantastic sight.

  4. I am glad your trip was a success.

  5. Such cool-looking birds. Glad to hear that you're back. Look forward to reading your adventures in Mexico.

  6. Thanks, all. Tim, you're right! No wonder I was thinking of dinos!

  7. I've seen them in flight from a distance - never up close like this - beautiful!! I love the characteristic split tail.


If your comment is on a post older than a week, it will be held for moderation. Sorry about that, but spammers seem to love old posts!

Also, I have word verification on, because I found out that not only do I get spam without it, but it gets passed on to anyone commenting in that thread. Not cool!