- Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
Habitat and Ecology
- UNESCO-IOC Register of Marine Organisms
Depth range (m): 0 - 0
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Evolution and Systematics
Male frigatebirds attract mates with an elastic, red gular pouch that is inflatable.
"A male frigatebird or Man-o-war bird has selected a suitable nest site and is advertising for a mate by inflating its crimson throat pouch. As soon as the first egg is laid, the pouch will be deflated." (Foy and Oxford Scientific Films 1982:76)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Foy, Sally; Oxford Scientific Films. 1982. The Grand Design: Form and Colour in Animals. Lingfield, Surrey, U.K.: BLA Publishing Limited for J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd, Aldine House, London. 238 p.
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
A cat eradication programme has been in operation on Ascension for several years under the guidance of the RSPB and has already resulted in the return of some seabird species to the mainland, although this is not yet the case for Ascension Frigatebirds (N. Ratcliffe in litt. 2000, 2003, G. Hilton in litt. 2003, Ratcliffe et al. 2008). Boatswainbird is a bird sanctuary (Orta 1992a). Conservation Actions Proposed
Complete and monitor the effects of cat eradication on Ascension. Use independent observers on longline vessels to investigate the numbers of this species killed (Ratcliffe 1999). Instigate measures to prevent future mortalities by long-lining if this is proven to be a threat (Ratcliffe 1999). Ensure sustainable use of the fisheries around Ascension Island (Ratcliffe 1999). Conduct further research on breeding behaviour of marked birds (Pickup 1998). Monitor changes in distribution, productivity and long-term population trends.
The Ascension frigatebird (Fregata aquila) breeds on the rocky slopes of the tiny Boatswain Bird Island just off Ascension Island in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. It formerly bred on the larger island, but was exterminated by introduced cats, brown rats, and human persecution; in 2012 it was announced that a breeding pair had been found on Ascension Island following a project to exterminate feral cats.
As with other frigatebirds, its movements outside the breeding season are little known because of identification problems within this difficult group, but it occurs off west Africa. It feeds on fish and similar surface prey such as small turtles.
This species is very similar to the other frigatebirds and is similarly sized to all but the lesser frigatebird. It has a white axillary spur, and juveniles show a white head, and a distinctly white hind neck with no reddish-brown hue. It has a brown breast band.
A frigatebird found moribund in 1953 in Tiree, Scotland was identified at the time as magnificent frigatebird but the specimen was re-examined in 2002 and found to be an Ascension frigatebird. In July 2013 a juvenile was photographed at Bowmore on the island of Islay in Scotland.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Fregata aquila". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- McKie, Robin (8 December 2012). "Frigatebird returns to nest on Ascension for first time since Darwin". The Observer. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
- Wallbridge, Grahame; Small, Brian; McGowan, Robert Y (2003). "From the Rarities Committee’s files: Ascension Frigatebird on Tiree – new to the Western Palearctic". British Birds 96 (2): 58–73.
- "Rare Ascension frigatebird recorded on Islay". BBC Highlands & Islands. 7 July 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013.
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