Red billed Tropicbird

Red billed Tropicbird

The red-billed tropicbird is a tropicbird, one of three closely related species of seabird of tropical oceans. Superficially resembling a tern in appearance, it has mostly white plumage with some black markings on the wings and back, a black mask and, as its common name suggests, a red bill. Most adults have tail streamers that are about two times their body length, with those in males being generally longer than those in females.

Nesting takes place in loose colonies, as they nest a scrape found on a cliff face that is easy to take off from. A single egg is laid and is incubated by both sexes for about six weeks. Whether the egg hatches or not can be influenced by pollution and weather, although the latter has a minimal effect on whether a chick fledges or not. After a chick fledges, the parents will usually stop visiting the nest and the chick will leave. Birds of all ages feed on fish and squid, catching them by diving from the air into the water. However, the red-billed tropicbird sometimes follows surface-feeding predators. The predators will drive the prey to the surface, which are then seized by the tropicbird.

The red-billed tropicbird measures 90 to 105 cm on average, which includes the 46 to 56 cm long tail stramers. Without them the tropicbird measures about 48 cm. It has a wingspan of 99 to 106 cm. In overall appearance it is tern-like in shape. Its plumage is white, with black wing tips, and a back that is finely barred in black. It has a black mask that extends up from just above the lores to the sides of its nape, with gray mottling usually seen near the nape and hindneck. The tail has black shaft streaks, as do tail streamers. The underparts are white, with some black on the outermost primaries and tertials and occasionally with black markings on the flanks. The iris is blackish-brown, and the bill is red. The legs, base of the central toe, and parts of the outer toes are orange-yellow while the rest of the feet are black. Although the sexes are similar, the males are generally larger than females, with the tail streamers being around 12 cm longer on the male than on the female.

88 thoughts on “Red billed Tropicbird”

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