[CT Birds] Frigate birds and vagrancy

julian hough jrhough1 at snet.net
Fri Sep 30 09:37:33 EDT 2016

To follow up on yesterday’s report and to give a little more contextual info, here is a comment from the 1996 ARCC that summarizes "recent" CT reports. 
MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRD (Fregata magnificens) The committee agreed that an immature frigatebird was seen at Menunketesuck, Waterford, 6 Aug 1990 (91-1). (Editor's Note: Menunketesuck is in the town of Westbrook not Waterford) Immature Fregata are notoriously difficult to identify (see Birding, 26:402-415), and the committee decided that the details provided did not satisfactorily eliminate other members of this genus. Lesser Frigatebird, F. ariel, has been photographed in Maine (AOU 1983). There are approximately three accepted reports of F. magnificens from Connecticut, and unlike other tropical seabirds, these occurrences are not exclusively associated with tropical storm systems.
To spotlight Nick’s comments from yesterday, that while reports of frigatebirds in the northeast will likely pertain to Magnificent, it cannot be assumed that other species are not involved as hinted at by the report of a Lesser Frigatebird from Maine. This makes documenting and detailing any frigate bird sighting, to allow the elimination of other species, a bit more complicated. Frigatebirds are widely wandering species and are prone to vagrancy, e.g.,  Magnificent has reached Britain. Notably the first record of Magnificent Frigatebird for the UK, on the Island of Tiree, Hebrides in 1953 was found moribund but reidentified many years later from the specimen as Europe’s first Ascension Island Frigatebird. Remarkably, a second Ascension Island Frigatebird was found on the Scottish island of Islay in 2013 and photographed before promptly disappearing!  Check this gripping account out!:
So, frigatebirds are awesome, but please remember to try and document any sightings of non-adult males with details of the distribution of white on the head and underparts and/or underwings.
And remember..if you see something...say something!
Good luck! Julian Hough New Haven, CT 06519 www.naturescapeimages.wordpress.com 


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