This bird’s drumming on his body lures the ladies

The male frigatebird has a mighty wingspan and awesome stamina—but he really impresses mates by inflating a body part and playing drum solos on it.

Many a suitor puffs out his chest hoping to impress the ladies. But for hue, girth, and sheer musicality, none beats the blimplike bosom on Fregata magnificens, the magnificent frigatebird.

During a courtship display, each male seeks to outdo the others with one body part: a red pouch hanging from his throat. When he inflates this gular sac, it balloons into a heartlike shape as tall as he is. Then he clacks his beak, and it resonates in the sac like a drumbeat, a thrumming love call. “You hear it long before you see them,” says Jen Jones of the Galapagos Conservation Trust, who has witnessed displays on the islands.

Females that have been gliding overhead land and eye their options. Males may turn up the heat even more with “disco moves, head shakes, or the occasional shimmy,” Jones says. One study says it’s the drumming that gets males the most mates, but the whole show is “absolutely amazing,” Jones says. “A feast for the senses.”

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