Species: Christmas frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi)
Status: Critically Endangered (CR)
Interesting Fact: Males have a scarlet gular pouch (a large pouch below the bill) which becomes more vibrant during the mating season and is inflated during courtship displays.
Spending most of their time at sea, the Christmas frigatebird only returns to land to roost and breed. The frigatebird is only known to breed on Christmas Island in the northwest Indian Ocean. These large seabirds feed mainly on flying fish and cephalopods from the surface of the water, but will also harass other seabirds for food.
The Christmas frigatebird is confined to a few breeding colonies on a single island, making the population vulnerable to chance events. In the past, these birds have been threatened by habitat destruction and human predation. Pollution from phosphate mines caused a major nesting site to be abandoned, and displaced birds may now be using much poorer habitats in which to breed. Two of the three current breeding populations are found within Christmas Island National Park, and these birds are protected by Migratory Bird Agreements between Australia and other countries. The population size still needs close monitoring as this species remains highly vulnerable to extinction.
Find out more about the Christmas frigatebird on the Australian Government website.
See images and videos of the Christmas frigatebird on ARKive.
Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Researcher