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Red-tailed Tropicbird - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by chiemomo
Lord Howe Island, 11 February 2005
Phaethon rubricauda


78–81 cm (30¾-32 in); including 28–38 cm tail-streamers

  • White, with pink wash
  • Black eye crescent
  • Thin, red tail feather
  • Bright red bill
  • Black feet


Photo © by peterday
Lady Eliot Island, Queensland, 22 October 2007

idely in Indian and Pacific Oceans, mostly in tropical and subtropical waters reaching to temperate areas at for example southern Australia.



Four subspecies are recognized[1]:

  • P. r. melanorhynchos:
  • Breeds and disperses widely in tropical Pacific Ocean
  • P. r. roseotinctus:
  • Breeds south-western Pacific islands
  • P. r. rubricauda:
  • Breeds islands in western Indian Ocean
  • P. r. westralis:
  • Islands in eastern Indian Ocean and Easter Island


Photo © by peterday
Lady Eliot Island, Queensland, 14 November 2019

Well at sea except when breeding. Breeds on coral atolls with low shrubs or on more rocky islands with cliffs containing cavities, often limestone.



Their diet consists mostly of fish, particularly flying fish, and squid.


They construct a nest in sheltered areas such as the base of a tree or in shrubs or in hole in cliff. The clutch contains a single brown to purplish black egg which is incubated by both parents for 39-51 days. The chick is fed by both parents.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Orta, J., Christie, D.A., Jutglar, F., Garcia, E.F.J., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2019). Red-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon rubricauda). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. 25 July 2019.

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