Family Frigatebirds (Fregatidae)

Least Concern

Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel)


French: Frégate ariel German: Arielfregattvogel Spanish: Rabihorcado chico

Atagen ariel

G. R. Gray

, 1845,

Raine Island, Queensland, Australia


Genetic data indicate that this species is basal to all others in genus#R. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • F. a. iredalei Mathews, 1914 – W Indian Ocean.
  • F. a. ariel (G. R. Gray, 1845) – C & E Indian Ocean, SE Asian seas, N Australia to W & C Pacific Ocean.
  • F. a. trinitatis Miranda-Ribeiro, 1919 – S Atlantic (Trindade I and Martim Vaz Is, off E Brazil).
  • Descriptive notes

    66–81 cm; male 625–875 g, female 760–955 g; wingspan 155–195 cm. Much the smallest species. Smallest frigatebird. Breeding male is brownish black with... read more


    Usually silent away from colonies. Calls at nest include several rather gull-like grating and... read more


    Tropical and subtropical seas, breeding on small, remote islands, in mangroves or bushes/scrub (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly fish, especially flying fish (Cypselurus, Exocoetus, Evolantia) of 10–20 cm, and squid (... read more


    Throughout much of year at different localities; some preference for egg-laying in dry season. Probably biennial, when successful. Colonial... read more


    Sedentary, with dispersal of immatures and non-breeders throughout tropical seas, especially across... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). World population probably several hundred thousand birds; main threats are probably habitat destruction, disturbance and direct... read more

    Recommended citation

    Orta, J., Garcia, E.F.J., Kirwan, G.M., Boesman, P. & Sharpe, C.J. (2019). Lesser Frigatebird (Fregata ariel). 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 25 June 2019).