White-tailed Tropicbird

Phaethon lepturus

Order

PELECANIFORMES

Family

Tropicbirds (Phaethontidae)

Code 4

WTTR

Code 6

PHALEP

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The White-tailed Tropicbird is the smallest tropicbird member of the order Phaethontiformes. This species is found in tropical Atlantic climates, western Pacific and Indian Ocean areas. Breeding habitats will also include the Caribbean islands, and nesting has taken place on Little Tobago and Bermuda, where it is known as a “longtail”. When not breeding, this bird will disperse widely throughout its range. Nests are simply ground scrapes or located on ledges of island cliffs. Diets consist mainly of fish and squid caught near the surface of the water. The conservation rating for the White-tailed Tropicbird is Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

White-tailed Tropicbird: This large white bird has a long black bar on upperwing coverts and outer primaries, black loral mask which extends through and past the eye, yellow-orange bill, white tail streamers, yellow legs and feet and black webbed toes. Feeds on fish and squid. Buoyant, graceful pigeon like flight with fluttering wing strokes alternating with soaring glides. Sexes are similar.


Range and Habitat

White-tailed Tropicbird: Occurs off the coast of the southeastern United States and throughout the northern and eastern Gulf of Mexico and tropical eastern Atlantic and Indian Oceans. It originates from breeding colonies in Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Greater and Lesser Antilles. Three records of this bird exist in California and Arizona. Prefers rain forest to barren ground.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"keek-keck", "eeh-oh", "squawk"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • It is considered a national bird of Bermuda and its picture appears on postage stamps and on the 25-cent coin.
  • The White-tailed Tropicbird was first described in 1802 by François Marie Daudin, a French zoologist. In Bermuda it is called a Longtail, and in the Maldives it is known as Dhadifulhudhooni.
  • Tropicbirds can catch and eat rather large fish for their size, up to 18 percent of their body weight.
  • Unlike other Pelicaniformes, adults regurgitate food by putting their bills down the gaping chick's throat.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP

CERange Map for White-tailed Tropicbird

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

4vdesign

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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Outer primariesX
The outer primaries are the primary feathers on the wing farthest from the body. They often appear to be the longest feathers on the wing.
PrimariesX
The primaries are the flight feathers specialized for flight. They are attached to the "hand" equivalent part of the wing.
FaceX
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
PelagicX
The pelagic is a type of bird whose habitat is on the open ocean rather than in a coastal region or on inland bodies of water (lakes, rivers). An example of a pelagic bird is the blacklegged kittiwake.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X