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White-tailed Tropicbird

From Opus

Nominate subspeciesPhoto by cangoAride, Seychelles, October 2017
Nominate subspecies
Photo by cango
Aride, Seychelles, October 2017
Phaethon lepturus


[edit] Identification

Subspecies catesbyiPhoto by Steve G Little Tobago Island, Tobago
Subspecies catesbyi
Photo by Steve G
Little Tobago Island, Tobago

70-82 cm (27½-32¼ in) long (includes very long central tail feathers)

  • White back
  • Black band on inner wing upperside
  • Black on outer primaries
  • White primary coverts on upperside
  • Black line through eye tends to turn down
  • Yellow to red bill

Sexes are similar (males have a long tail)
Juvenile: lacks taill streamers

  • Greenish-yellow bill
  • Finely barred back

[edit] Similar species

Red-billed Tropicbird and Red-tailed Tropicbird. Red-billed Tropicbird has black primary coverts on upperside and black eye line tends to turn up, not down.

[edit] Distribution

Subspecies fulvusPhoto by SwissboyChristmas Island, Australia, December 2007
Subspecies fulvus
Photo by Swissboy
Christmas Island, Australia, December 2007

The tropical Atlantic, western Pacific and Indian Oceans. They also breed on some Caribbean islands.

[edit] Taxonomy

[edit] Subspecies

ImmaturePhoto by Andy Wraithmelloff Florida, July 2011
Photo by Andy Wraithmell
off Florida, July 2011

There are six subspecies[1]:

  • P. l. lepturus:
  • P. l. fulvus: the tropicbirds of this subspecies have a golden-yellow wash of varying degrees, giving them the local name of Golden Bosun (photo to right)
  • P. l. europae:
  • P. l. catesbyi:
  • Breeds islands in tropical Atlantic Ocean
  • P. l. dorotheae:
  • P. l. ascensionis:

[edit] Habitat

Breeds on rocky island coasts, otherwise pelagic.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Breeding

The single egg is laid on a cliff edge or on the ground in a sheltered scrape. The breed in loose colonies.

[edit] Diet

Their diet consists of small fish (especially flying fish) and squid, caught by diving.

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved Oct 2017)
  3. Wikipedia

[edit] External Links


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