Lesser Frigatebird

This species is defined as a Review Species. Please submit your records of this species via our record submission page.

Scientific Name: Fregata ariel
Malay Name: Simbang Kecil
Chinese Name: 白斑军舰鸟

Breeds in tropical and subtropical Indian, Pacific and south Atlantic Oceans with non-breeder wanders widely to the coastal seas of southern Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia

Polytypic. Subspecies are: trinitatis, iredalei, ariel.

Local Subspecies: ariel

Size: 71-81 cm

Male has overall blackish plumage with prominent whitish patches extending from side of body to inner underwing-coverts and red gular pouch. Female has black hood and belly with white on the rest of underparts, extending in axillary spur onto inner underwing-coverts. Juvenile resembles female but has rufous to brownish white head, white belly and black breast-band. Apart from size, difficult to distinguish from juvenile Christmas Frigatebird but possibly has narrower black breast-band.

Similar looking species: Christmas Frigatebird

Habitat: Open seas

Behaviour/Ecology: Catches flying fish in mid-flight and harasses other sea birds to force them to disgorge their catch which is then caught in mid-air.

Local Status: Rare non-breeding visitor.

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2018)

Featured articles:

Past accepted records in our database:

Migrant bar chart (see more bar charts):

BirdLife International. (2018). Fregata ariel. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T22697738A132598822.en. Accessed on 1 January 2023
Robson, C. (2014). Field guide to the birds of South-East Asia (Second Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing, London.