Magnificent frigatebird Fregata magnificens, copyright Mark Vance.

Belongs within: Aequorlitornithes.

Fregata, the frigatebirds, is a genus of large, highly aerial seabirds found in warmer waters of the world. Male frigatebirds have a large, inflatable red gular pouch that is used in mating displays.

Characters (from Cramp & Simmons 1977): Body slender, neck short. Male smaller than female. Wings long and narrow, area of wing large in relation to weight of bird. 11 primaries; p10 longest, p11 minute. About 23 secondaries; diastataxic. Tail long, deeply forked; 12 narrow tail feathers. Bill long, strongly hooked at tip. Nostrils reduced. Gular skin bare, inflatable like balloon in displaying male. Tarsus extremely short; foot rather small, totipalmate, nail of middle toe medially with comb. Oil gland feathered. Aftershaft absent. Plumage glossy black, occasionally with white patches on underparts in male, usually white below in female; orbital ring, gular skin, and feet often brightly coloured. One moult per cycle; primary moult in serially descending order. Young naked at hatching; later clad in dense white down; contour feathers not developing from same follicles. Juveniles duller above than adults, pale underneath (often with dark breast band), head white or pale rufous; adult plumage attained after several years.

Fregata Lacépède 1799 CC10 (see below for synonymy)
    |--F. ariel (Gray 1845) BKB15, CC10 (see below for synonymy)
    |    |--F. a. ariel CC10
    |    |--F. a. iredalei Mathews 1914 CC10
    |    `--F. a. trinitatis Miranda-Ribeiro 1919 CC10
    `--+--F. minor (Gmelin 1789) BKB15, CC10 [=Pelecanus minor CC10, *Atagen minor CC10, *Tachypetes minor CC10]
       |    |--F. m. minor CC10
       |    |--F. m. aldabrensis Mathews 1914 CC10
       |    |--F. m. nicolli Mathews 1914 CC10
       |    |--F. m. palmerstoni (Gmelin 1789) (see below for synonymy) CC10
       |    `--F. m. ridgwayi Mathews 1914 CC10
       `--+--F. andrewsi BKB15
          `--+--*F. aquila (Linnaeus 1758) CC10, BKB15, L58 (see below for synonymy)
             `--F. magnificens Mathews 1914 JT12, CS77 [=F. minor magnificens CS77]

Fregata Lacépède 1799 CC10 [incl. Atagen Gray 1841 CC10, Attagen Möhring 1752 (pre-Linnean) B94, Parvifregata Mathews 1920 CC10, Tachypetes Vieillot 1816 CC10; Atagenidae, Attagenidae, Fregatae, Fregatides, Fregatinae, Fregatoidea, Tachypetidae]

*Fregata aquila (Linnaeus 1758) CC10, BKB15, L58 [=Pelecanus aquilus CC10, Tachypetes aquila CC10, T. aquilus CC10]

Fregata ariel (Gray 1845) BKB15, CC10 [=Atagen ariel CC10, *Parvifregata ariel CC10; incl. F. ariel tunnyi Mathews 1914 WS48]

Fregata minor palmerstoni (Gmelin 1789) [=Pelecanus palmerstoni, F. aquila palmerstoni; incl. F. minor peninsulae Mathews 1923] CC10

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B94] Bock, W. J. 1994. History and nomenclature of avian family-group names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 222: 1–281.

[BKB15] Burleigh, J. G., R. T. Kimball & E. L. Braun. 2015. Building the avian tree of life using a large-scale, sparse supermatrix. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 84: 53–63.

[CC10] Checklist Committee (OSNZ). 2010. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica 4th ed. Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Te Papa Press: Wellington.

[CS77] Cramp, S., & K. E. L. Simmons (eds) 1977. Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa: The Birds of the Western Palaearctic vol. 1. Ostrich to Ducks. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

[JT12] Jetz, W., G. H. Thomas, J. B. Joy, K. Hartmann & A. Ø. Mooers. 2012. The global diversity of birds in space and time. Nature 491: 444–448.

[L58] Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Tomus I. Editio decima, reformata. Laurentii Salvii: Holmiae.

[WS48] Whittell, H. M., & D. L. Serventy. 1948. A systematic list of the birds of Western Australia. Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia, Special Publication 1: 1–126.

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