Phaethon aethereus   Linnaeus,  1758 (Bird)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Aves

Image copyrights: Christer Sundström

Size: 48 cm.

Voice: loud monosyllabic.

Habits: Oftern solitary, sometimes in flock with feeding terns, flight strong and steady, may follow ships.

Sexes alike, chiefly white, tern-like, seabird with two elongated ribbons in the wedge-shaped tail. Adult: Black bars on upper parts, black line through eye down to nape, bill red, tail streamers white, black wingbars prominent in flight, underparts white. Juvenile: Has black tipped yellow bill, denser barring on upperparts than adults, the black eye-stripe almost joins across hind crown but lacks tail-streamers.

Breeding season: march or April. A single egg laid under shelter of a ledge of rock or in a crevice. Often nests gregariously.

Synonym (s)
Phaethon indicus (Hume, 1876)

Common Name (s)
• Grey-backed Tropicbird (English)
• Red-billed Tropicbird (English)
• Short-tailed Tropic-bird (English)
• Boatswain or Bos'n bird (English)
Economic Importance and Threats

Habitat:  Pelagic, Coastal
Trophic Level:  Consumer
Prey:  Chiefly fish and squids.
IUCN Status:  Least Concern


• West coast INDIA
• Lakshadweep INDIA
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andaman Islands INDIA
• Maharashtra, Bombay INDIA
• Gujarat, Gulf of Kutch INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • (2003) IUCN Red list of threatened species Available at -
  • Kumar, A; Sati, JP; Tak, PC and Alfred, JRB (2005) Handbook on Indian wetland birds and their conservation Zoological Survey of India, Dehra Dun 468 pp Available at - NIO, Goa
  • PBase Available at -
  • Vernacular names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent Buceros, Envis newsletter: Avian Ecology & Inland Wetlands 62pp Available at -
  • Manakadan R and Pittie A (2001) Standardized English names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent BUCEROS Envis Newsletter: Avian ecology and inland wetland 6(1) 26pp Available at -
  • Kumar A, sati JP and Tak CK (2003) Checklist of Indian Waterbids Buceros Envis Newsletter: Avian ecology and inland wetlands 8(1) 30pp Available at -
  • Ali S and Ripley SD (1968) Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan Oxford university press 1 1-368pp Available at - NIO

Page last updated on:2013-02-08

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