Tropicbird is the name given to three seabird species. These three seabirds include white tailed tropicbird, red tailed tropicbird and red billed tropicbird. These birds are found in Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans, central and South American countries. They have white appearance, long tail feathers and small legs.
tropicbird Scientific name:
There are three tropicbird species. They belong to the family “Phaethontidae” and genus “Phaethon”.
- The scientific name of white -tailed tropicbird is “Phaethon lepturus”.
- The scientific name of the red tailed tropicbird is “Phaethon rubricauda”.
- The scientific name of the red billed tropicbird is “Phaethon aethereus”.
The average size of a tropicbird is 75 to 100 centimeters or 30 to 40 inches.
The average weight of tropicbird is 0.3 to 0.7 kilograms or 0.6 to 1.5 pounds.
The average wingspan of tropicbird is 94 to 112 centimeters.
tropicbird Scientific classification:
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Phaethontiformes
- Family: Phaethontidae
- Genus: Phaethon
The three species of tropicbirds are found in tropical regions i.e. Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. They can also be found in the warm waters of Hawai and Florida. White tailed tropicbird is known as the national bird of Bermuda Island.
The red billed tropicbirds are found in the Galapagos Islands. They can also be found on the coast of Brazil. Their population is less than other two types of tropicbirds. The nesting locations of tropicbirds are close to shore.
Newborn tropicbirds are gray in colour. They become white with the advancement of age. As the tropicbird matures, it develops black marking on its body.
- The white tailed tropicbird has a white body, white tail and black markings on its face.
- The red tailed tropicbird has red tail and white feathers.
- The red billed tropicbird has white body, red beak and black markings on its face.
While searching for food, tropicbirds fly alone. They don’t fly in pairs or groups. However, while nesting, they live in monogamous pairs. They usually show feeding behaviors by plunging into water and diving down to capture prey. They show feeding behaviors during early morning and afternoon.
While nesting, certain courtship displays are shown by tropicbirds which includes unison flying. During flight, they make a loud piercing call. They make multiple calls for drawing attention towards themselves.
Nesting sites of tropicbirds include,
- Holes in rocks
- Hollow tree
- Cracks on the ground
The tropicbirds use their claws to make a depression in the rock or sand. This depression should be long enough so that the legs of tropicbirds can fit in.
As they live in oceans, they mostly prey on marine life. Their diet primarily includes flying fish but they can also eat squids, snails and crabs. They dive down to 15 feet to capture the crabs.
Tropicbirds exhibit some specific courtship rituals to attract and find a mate. They can fly at high speeds. The factor that affects the choice of acceptable mate is length and volume of the feathers of tropicbird’s tail.
After finding the mate, the tropicbirds live in monogamous pairs. While nesting, the female lays one egg. The nesting sites are rocks or cracks of ground. The incubation period is 40 to 42 days. During this time the male parent usually go in search of food.
After hatching, the chicks are unable to move. They are able to leave the nest after 2 to 3 months. In these 2 to 3 months, both the parents feed their young one by taking turns until it is able to find food by its own.
Female lays only one egg that is white in color and has purplish and brownish spots.
Tropicbirds communicate via various calls. They usually make multiple calls to draw attention of others during flight and mating. They make calls like piping keck-keck-keck.
Tropicbirds migrate to North American waters in spring and summer. They migrate to Bermuda Island in summer only. Sometimes they can be driven to the greater distance islands in North America because of hurricanes.
Threats and Predators:
The predators of tropicbirds include cats, rats and dogs. They usually attack the chicks or nest. Large eagles can also prey on tropicbirds with their long and sharp claws.
Relationship between humans and tropicbirds:
Humans tend to overfish that causes tropicbirds death because of starvation and lack of nutrition. When the number of fish and squid declines then tropicbirds population also decreases.
Tropicbirds live in monogamous pairs near oceans and islands. They can also live in colonies. They can form several hundred pairs. Galapagos Islands have 30 colonies in which thousands of these birds live. The coast of Mexico and California have two colonies that have 300 to 400 of these birds.
They have dispersed distribution. That’s why it’s difficult to estimate exact population. However, some rough estimate indicates that the red tailed tropicbirds are the largest in number. There are about 40,000 to 80,000 red tailed tropicbirds in eastern Pacific Ocean. In addition, while tailed tropicbirds are 5,000 in number and red billed tropicbirds are about 2,000 around the world.
tropicbird Conservation status:
The conservation status of tropicbirds is “Not extinct” according to International Union for Conservation. Although nesting colonies are destroyed by human disturbances but they are still common in many areas.
The average lifespan of tropicbird is 10 to 16 years.
White tailed tropicbird:
- White tailed tropicbirds are the national birds of Bermuda Island.
- They have white appearance, yellow beak and black markings on face. They have long white tail that is their distinguishable feature.
- They make their nests on rocky cliffs or ground cracks.
- They communicate via different calls including squawks and clucks.
- They are smaller and more efficient in flight than red tailed tropicbirds.
- The average lifespan of white tailed tropicbird is 16 years.
Red tailed tropicbird:
- Red tailed tropicbirds are found in Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.
- They are medium sized.
- They have white appearance, red beak and white feathers. Their red tail can’t be seen from a distance.
- They communicate via calls including squawks and also perform some courtship displays including backward wheeling.
- They are larger than white tailed tropicbirds.
- The average lifespan of red tailed tropicbird is 16 to 23 years.
Red billed tropicbird:
- The red billed tropicbirds are found in Galapagos Islands and coast of Brazil.
- They are less than other two types of tropicbirds.
- They have red beak, white body and black marks on their face.
- They communicate via calls including loud rattling calls.
- The average lifespan of red billed tropicbird is 16 to 30 years.
Some of the facts of tropicbird are,
- They are found in tropical regions including Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.
- They belong to “Phaethontidae” family and “Phaethon” genus.
- There are three species of tropicbird i.e. white tailed tropicbird, red tailed tropicbird and red billed tropicbird.
- Average weight of tropicbird is 0.6 to 1.5 pounds.
- Average size of tropicbird is 30 to 40 inches.
- Average wingspan of tropicbird is 94 to 112 centimeters.
- They feed on marine life.
- They usually live in monogamous pairs while nesting.
- They make multiple calls to draw attention.
- Predators of tropicbirds include dogs, cats and rats.
- The conservation status of tropicbird is “not extinct”.
- The average lifespan of tropicbird is 10 to 16 years.
- White tailed tropicbirds are the national birds of Bermuda Island.
- The courtship displays include backward wheeling and fast vertical ascents.
Tropicbirds usually fly during day time and roost at night. “Unison flying” is a courtship ritual exhibited by tropicbirds while flying. During flying, they make a loud piercing call.
The average wingspan is 94 to 112 centimeters.
Tropicbirds have white plumages. They exhibit some courtship displays to attract a mate. The length and volume of their tail’s feathers determines their choice of acceptable mate. After mate selection, they live in pairs.
The life style of tropicbird is “flock”. After finding a mate by exhibiting several courtship rituals, they start living in monogamous pairs. The female lays only one egg that is white cultured with purple or brown spots. The nesting sites are rocky cliffs or cracks on grounds. During incubation period of 40 to 42 days, both the parents search food.
The chicks are able to leave the nest after 2 to 3 months when they will be able to find food by their own.
There are three species of tropicbird that are,
- White tailed tropicbirds
- Red tailed tropicbirds
- Red billed tropicbirds.
White Tailed Tropicbirds:
They are national birds of Bermuda Island. They have yellow beaks and long white distinguishable tails. Their nesting sites are ground cracks and rocks. The communication calls include clucks and squawks. They are smaller and more efficient in flight. They can live up to 16 years.
Red Tailed Tropicbird:
They are found in Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. They are medium sized, have red beak and white feathers. The communication calls include clucks and courtship display includes backward wheeling. They are larger than white tailed tropicbirds. They can live up to 23 years.
Red Billed Tropicbird:
They are found in the Galapagos Islands and Brazil coast. Their population is less than the other two species. They have red beaks and black face markings. The communication calls include loud rattling calls. They can live up to 30 years.
White Tailed Tropicbird Habitat:
White tailed tropicbirds are the national birds of Bermuda Island. They live in tropical regions including the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. They can also live in the warm waters of Hawaii and Florida. While nesting, they dig depressions in the sand or rock. The nesting sites include rocky cliffs, cracks on grounds, ledges and holes in trees.
Tropicbirds are three species of family Phaethontidae living in tropical regions. They have white body and long tail feathers. They are well known for their multiple calls, several courtship rituals and their nesting sites of rocks and cracks on grounds.