Christmas Frigatebird

Creature Feature – Christmas Frigatebird

It’s Creature Feature Friday! As we head into December, each week we take a detailed look at a resident of Christmas Island. Next up is the Christmas Island Frigatebird. Frigatebirds are a family of seabirds called Fregatidae which are found across all tropical and subtropical oceans and have the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of any bird. 

Christmas Frigatebird

Taxonomy

Scientific Name: Fregata andrewsi

Phylum: Chordata

Order: Suliformes

Family: Fregatidae

Genus: Fregata

Christmas Frigatebird Fact File

? Size: Individuals measure up to 1m in length (with a wingspan up to 2.3m) and weigh up to 1.5kg

? Distribution: Christmas Island frigatebirds get their name from the fact that they breed exclusively on Christmas Island, an island off the north-western coast of Australia in the Indian Ocean

? Diet: This species spends a large proportion of time at sea, plucking squid and fish from the surface of the water

? Behaviour: They also employ a method of feeding called kleptoparasitism; where they steal other birds’ food by forcing them to regurgitate. Males have a distinctive red gular pouch, which they inflate during the breeding season to attract females

? IUCN Status: Vulnerable. Endemic to Christmas Island, individuals breed in one of only four main nesting colonies. Its breeding habitat is affected by the invasive yellow crazy ant, which is a key threat to many species on the island. They are also threatened by hunting, getting trapped in fishing gear, habitat destruction for phosphate mining, and the ecological fallout from the phosphate dust