Fregata aquilia Linnaeus, 1758, Ascension Island.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Ascension Island frigatebird; French: Frйgate aigle-demer; German: Adlerfregattvogel; Spanish: Rabihorcado de Ascensiуn.
Body length of 35–38 in (89–96 cm), a wingspan of 77–79 in (196–201 cm), and a weight of about 2.6 lb (1.2 kg). Males have a greenish gloss on their black plumage, while females are brownish on the upper breast, nape, and wing band. The male has a bright red, inflatable throat sac used during courtship.
Breeds on Ascension Island in the south Atlantic Ocean. It mostly occurs near the breeding island but may also feed more widely in waters of the south Atlantic.
Inhabits tropical and subtropical coastal waters, often near mangrove forest.
Outstanding fliers, they often soar to great heights. They are silent at sea but noisy at the breeding colony.
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Feed on flying fish caught in the air, on other small fish, squid, and other marine food snatched at the sea’s surface and on meals they force other seabirds to disgorge in flight. They also feed on fishery offal and by-catch and predate the eggs and young of other seabirds.
Lay a single egg in a low nest, usually built in a mangrove tree or shrub. The egg is incubated by both parents. The chick is naked when born and is fed by both parents. Sexual maturity is at 5–7 years.
This species is considered Critically Endangered because it breeds on only one tiny island, where its small and decreasing population is severely threatened by predation by introduced feral cats. It may also be at risk because of food depletion caused by fishing activities in its feeding habitat.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
Not of much importance to people, except for the economic benefits of ecotourism related to birdwatching.
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