Family Frigatebirds (Fregatidae)


Ascension Frigatebird (Fregata aquila)


French: Frégate aigle-de-mer German: Adlerfregattvogel Spanish: Rabihorcado de Ascensión

Pelecanus Aquilus


, 1758,

Ascension Island


Formerly included all four larger species of genus. Monotypic.


Ascension I, S Atlantic, and surrounding waters; now breeds only on Boatswainbird I (off E coast of Ascension).

Descriptive notes

89–96 cm; c. 1250 g; wingspan 196–201 cm. Typical adult male brownish black with purple and green gloss; some greenish-glossed lanceolate feathers on sides of... read more


Usually silent away from breeding colonies. Males clap bill violently during gular presentation (... read more


Formerly bred on volcanic slopes of Ascension I, where it still roosts and forages; breeding now... read more

Food and feeding

Fish, especially flying-fish, including Cypselurus, Hirundichthyes and Exocoetus volitans; also some baby green... read more


Breeds in all months, but mostly Apr–Nov/Dec, with peak laying in Oct; biennial when successful. Forms loose colonies, on ground,... read more


Sedentary, rarely wandering more than 150 km from breeding grounds. Moult undertaken mostly away... read more

Status and conservation

VULNERABLE. Tiny global breeding range, confined to one or two small islands. According to BirdLife International, census data from 2001–2002 indicate global population... read more

Recommended citation

Orta, J., Christie, D.A., Garcia, E.F.J., Jutglar, F. & Boesman, P. (2020). Ascension Frigatebird (Fregata aquila). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 9 April 2020).