Although flying-fish and possibly squid feature prominently in the Ascension frigatebird’s diet, this highly predatory species is known to take young chicks from the nests of other seabirds as well as newly-hatched turtles on their way to the sea (2) (4). Furthermore, like other frigatebirds it will harass smaller seabirds into dropping their own food, in a strategy known as kleptoparasitism (3) (4).
The Ascension frigatebird breeds year-round, with the frequency of egg-laying increasing from May through to October, before dropping off again (2) (4). During courtship, males come together in relatively passive groups to present their inflated gulars to overflying females. Pointing their ballooning throats towards the sky, each male throbs rhythmically with its wings half extended, and clops its bill noisily (3) (4) (5).
After pairing up and copulating, the female lays a single egg in a shallow scrape in the ground, augmented with pebbles, feathers and bones. The young Ascension frigatebirds hatch after around 44 days, but only learn to fly after six or seven months, and remain largely dependant on the adults for food for several months after fledging (4) (5). Breeding success is generally low, with a breeding female unlikely to raise more than one chick every two years (2) (4) (5).