Ascension frigatebird

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Ascension frigatebird
Male Frigatebird with chick Fregata aquila.jpg
Male with chick at Boatswain Bird Island
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Suliformes
Family: Fregatidae
Genus: Fregata
Species: F. aquila
Binomial name
Fregata aquila
(Linnaeus, 1758)

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.[2]

Female Ascension frigatebird

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.[3] In July 2013 a juvenile was photographed at Bowmore on the island of Islay in Scotland.[4]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Fregata aquila". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ McKie, Robin (8 December 2012). "Frigatebird returns to nest on Ascension for first time since Darwin". The Observer. Retrieved 10 December 2012. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ "Rare Ascension frigatebird recorded on Islay". BBC Highlands & Islands. 7 July 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 

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