Ascension Island is a small, remote volcanic island located in the South Atlantic Ocean. Despite its isolated location, this unique ecosystem is home to a rich variety of bird species.
The island’s birds are considered to be of extreme ecological importance due to their evolutionary adaptations to the island’s arid and atypical climate. With over 30 species, these birds have adapted to the challenges of limited resources and isolation, and have become an important part of Ascension’s biodiversity.
This article will further explore the various bird species found on the island and their unique traits.
1. Red-Billed Tropicbird
The Red-billed Tropicbird is a beautiful seabird found in tropical oceans. It has mainly white plumage, with black markings on its wings and back, along with a black mask and red bill.
These birds have distinctive long tail streamers that are twice their body length which they use to help them soar above the ocean surface while searching for food.
They primarily feed off squid, fish and crustaceans that inhabit coral reefs or deep sea areas where they can dive up to 30 meters below the water’s surface.
The Red-billed Tropicbird was once thought of as an omen of bad luck but now it serves as a reminder of how delicate our marine ecosystems are when faced with human activity such as overfishing.Scientific classification:
2. Brown Booby
The Brown Booby is a large, seabird from the booby family Sulidae. It has a pantropical range and can be found in many areas of the world.
This bird lives in flocks and forages by plunging into shallow waters to catch small fish that are driven near the surface by predators or storms.
The brown booby is known for its short wings which make it highly maneuverable when hunting; this allows it to pursue prey quickly with sudden turns and dives.
Its diet also includes squid, crustaceans, eggs of other birds, as well as scraps from boats or ships they may come across while flying around coastlines.
They sometimes rest on floating objects during their long flights over open water between islands or continents.Scientific classification:
3. White-Tailed Tropicbird
The White-tailed Tropicbird is a beautiful seabird that lives in the tropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.
It is the smallest member of its order Phaethontiformes, measuring only 28 inches from head to tail.
Its wingspan can reach up to 45 inches wide. The bird has white plumage with black markings on its wings and tail feathers.
It also has an unmistakable long streamer which trails out behind them when they are in flight – a characteristic feature for all tropicbirds.
They nest mainly on remote islands throughout their range but have recently begun nesting on Little Tobago as well.
These birds feed primarily off flying fish or squid near the ocean’s surface during daylight hours before returning back home at nightfall.Scientific classification:
4. Masked Booby
The Masked Booby is a large seabird belonging to the booby and gannet family. It was first described by French naturalist René-Primevère Lesson in 1831, making it one of six species of boobies within its genus Sula.
It has an impressive aerodynamic body shape with pale grey or white plumage on its head and neck, while the rest of its body is blackish brown.
Its wingspan can reach up to 1 metre wide. The bill is yellowish and pointed at the end, whilst they have bright blue skin around their eyes – this is why they are also known as ‘blue-faced’ boobies.
They use their strong wings for soaring over oceans in search of fish which makes them excellent fishers who feed mainly on flying fish near tropical waters but can occasionally be found off coasts in temperate regions too.Scientific classification:
5. Ascension Frigatebird
The Ascension frigatebird is a large, lightly built seabird with brownish-black plumage and deeply forked tail. It has a wingspan of around 2m (6.6ft), making it one of the largest sea birds in the world.
The male has an impressive red gular sac which he inflates to attract potential mates during breeding season.
Females are slightly smaller than males and lack the bright red throat pouch but have wide white stripes across their chest instead.
These amazing creatures can soar high above land or sea for hours at a time without flapping their wings.
They feed on fish, squid, crustaceans and other small marine life they catch while flying over water surfaces near shorelines or reefs.
Their incredible endurance makes them ideal oceanic scavengers as well; often seen following fishing boats in search of scraps thrown overboard by fishermen.Scientific classification:
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6. Sooty Tern
The Sooty Tern is a bird that lives in the tropics of all three major oceans. It is found mostly on remote islands where it returns to nest and breed during its seasonal journeys.
This member of the Laridae family has been described by Carl Linnaeus as Sterna fuscata, though more recently it was given its current name Onychoprion fuscatus.
The sooty tern has dark grey wings and back, with white underneath for camouflage against predators when flying over open ocean waters; they are also adept at diving underwater in search of food such as fish or crustaceans which make up their diet.
They live in colonies and usually lay two eggs each year which incubate for about four weeks before hatching into fluffy little chicks.Scientific classification:
7. Ascension Night Heron
The Ascension night heron was a species of night heron that lived exclusively on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic. Unfortunately, it is now extinct.
Researchers have only been able to study the species based on bone fragments from six individuals found in guano deposits and caves.
The bird was first described in 2003 by Philip Ashmole, Kenneth Edwin Laurence Ryder Simmons, and William Richmond Postle Bourne.
Little is known about the biology or behavior of this bird, but it likely had similar characteristics to other night heron species.
It is a shame that this unique bird is no longer found on Ascension Island, but its remains serve as an important reminder of its presence and the importance of conservation efforts for endangered species.Scientific classification: