Phaethon rubricauda   Boddaert,  1785 (Bird)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Aves

Image copyrights: pbase

Tropicbirds are medium sized birds (220-835 g; 70-105 cm (30-56 cm including tail streamers); 90-119 cm wingspan).

Habits: Generally solitary or in pairs, rarely follow ships, but circles above them.

Sexes alike, silky white, tern-like, sea bird with stiff red tail-streamers. Adult: With red bill, black streak through eye to nape, black shafts on wings and tail feathers, red tail-streamers that project spike-like rather than trail ribbon-like in flight, largely white upperwing, mantle and rump. Juvenile: Has grey or black bill and lacks tail-streamers.

Breeding season- Tropicbirds breed in colonies on remote islands. Breeding may be continuous (year round) or seasonal. Seasonal breeders are also migratory. Nest sites include crags or ledges on cliffs, scrapes on the ground, or hollows of trees. Little or no nesting material is present. If nesting on soft substrate, the adults will use their bodies and feet to create the shallow depression. The female lays one egg, which is red-brown to gray-purple, either uniform or speckled in color.

Synonym (s)

Common Name (s)
• Red-tailed Tropicbird (English)
Economic Importance and Threats
Importance:  Commercial
(Some oceanic islanders use tropicbird tail feathers as ornaments. The birds are generally captured but not killed for this purpose. However, tropicbird chicks and adults are sometimes collected and killed for human consumption.)
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(Tropicbird- chicks and adults are sometimes collected and killed for human consumption.)

Habitat:  Pelagic, Coastal
Trophic Level:  Consumer
Prey:  Fish and squids.
Predator:  rats (Rattus norvegicus, R. rattus. R. exulans), cats and humans
IUCN Status:  Least Concern


• Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Nicobar Island INDIA
• Bay of Bengal INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • Myers, P; Espinosa, R; Parr, CS; Jones, T; Hammond, GS and Dewey, TA (2006) Animal diversity web 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
  • Encyclopedia of Life 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 -
  • Vernacular names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent Buceros, Envis newsletter: Avian Ecology & Inland Wetlands 62pp 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
  • PBase Available at -

Page last updated on:2013-02-08

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