White-tailed tropicbird

A beautiful long-tailed white seabird.  The White-tailed Tropicbird breeds on almost every island, including the large islands like Mahe and Silhouette, where it nests in trees and bird’s nest ferns on high altitude forests.

White-tailed tropicbird © Alec Taylor

White-tailed tropicbird family © Nguyen Dao

However, birds that breed on predator free islands are more successful.  Here, birds often nest on the ground at the base of trees.  There is intense competition for good nest sites, with birds fighting viciously fro the best spots.  Young birds are grey and fluffy, and do not grow long tail feathers for a year or more.  When their chicks are fatter than they are themselves, adult White tailed Tropicbirds abandon them; the chicks become so hungry that they make their own way to the sea.

Sometimes, golden yellow White-tailed Tropicbirds are seen around the Seychelles, these are probably wandering individuals from far-off populations.


Scientific name: Phaethon lepturus

Wingspan: 90 – 95 cm
Population in the Seychelles: At least 6,000 PAIRS (granitics) with 2,500 pairs on Aldabra.
World distribution: Caribbean and Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Ocean
Distribution in Seychelles: Breeds on almost all islands
Nest: In holes in trees (on islands with predators) or on the ground (on predator-free islands) One egg laid
Diet: Dives from the air to catch small fish and squid
Identification: A white seabird with long white tail, black patches in wings and black eye stripe, and larger yellow beak.

See more

Species Fact Sheet at BirdLife Data Zone

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Since 1998.

Seychelles Nature, Green HealthClimate Change, Biodiversity Conservation & Sustainability Organisation

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