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Ascension Frigatebird - BirdForum Opus

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Alternative name: Ascension Island Frigatebird

Immature bird of indeterminable sex.
Photo by Marc Guyt
Ascension Island, April 2006
Fregata aquila


Size 89-96cm Wingspan 196-201cm
This species is very similar to the other frigatebirds and is similarly sized to all but Lesser Frigatebird. The adult bird has two colour morphs;

Dark Morph

Photo by crispash
Georgetown, Ascension, October 2005

Plumage black with glossy green feathers to the head, mantle and upper wing coverts. A scarlet gular pouch is visible during the breeding season.

Mostly blackish-brown with a brown nape and hind neck extending in a band across the upper breast. Little, if any, white feathering in the under parts.

Pale Morph

Head and upperparts black with some glossy green feathering. Underparts are mostly white with a black breast band, flanks and vent area. Wings, blackish above with glossy green feathers, below mostly blackish with white spur on axillaries.

Head is mostly dull black with dull brown nape and hind neck. Upperparts are mostly blackish-brown, underparts similar to male except black throat bordered by broad brownish breast band which forms a sharp v on the breast. Wings, upper blackish-brown with pale stripe across the coverts, underwings mostly black with white spur on axillaries.

Juvenile (both morphs)
Head and underparts white, the amount decreasing with approaching maturity. The brown breast band forms with age as extension of the dark feathering of the sides of the breast. Upperparts are dark brown becoming darker with age and the tail is black. Wings, upper surface brownish-black with pale stripe on coverts, underwing mostly blackish with random spots of white, large white spur on axillaries.


Africa: Breeds only on Boatswainbird Island (Ascension Island); ranges to west African coast. Has occurred, as a vagrant, as far north as Scotland (twice).


This is a monotypic species[1].


Rocky slopes.



The diet includes fish and similar surface prey such as small turtles. [1]


Breeds on the summit of Boatswain Island, an isolated rocky outcrop near Ascension Island. Builds nests out of vegetable matter and other debris usually among rocks on flat areas and cliff edges. [6]


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2012. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to October 2012. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
  2. Wikipedia
  3. BirdLife International
  4. Peter Harrison. 1983. Seabirds an identification guide ISBN 0-7470-1410-8
  5. Birds of the Western Palearctic interactive. A DVD Rom produced by OUP and Birdguides.
  6. Neil McCulloch, 2004. A guide to the birds of St Helena and Ascension Island. ISBN 1-901930-46-7

Recommended Citation

External Links

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