Phaethon lepturus   Daudin,  1802 (Bird)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Aves

Image copyright: pbase

Size: 38 cm.

Habits: Generally solitary or in pairs on high seas, often follow ships.

Sexes alike. A smaller, elegant and white, tern like, sea bird with yellow bill and two very long white tail streamers. Adult: Diagonal black bars on upperwing, eye-stripe black, bill yellow or orange, white mantle and rump, black wing tips. Juvenile: Lacks diagonal black bars on upperwing and tail-streamers.

Breeds in Andaman Islands. 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)
• Logtailed Tropic Bird (English)
• White Tailed Tropicbird (English)
• Yellow-billed Tropicbird (English)
• White-tailed Tropicbird (English)
Economic Importance and Threats
Importance:  Commercial
(Some oceanic islanders use tropicbird tail feathers as ornaments.)
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(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)

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


• Tamil Nadu, Chennai INDIA
• Andaman Nicobar Islands, Andaman Islands INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Mannar INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • (2001) Sanctuary Asia natural history species: Species checklist: Birds Sanctuary Asia Sanctuary Magazine Available at -
  • Tikader, BK (1984) Birds of Andaman and Nicobar Island ZSI, Kolkata 1-167 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre Available at -
  • 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
  • Animal Photo Album Available at -
  • Marine Biological Station, Chennai, Tamil Nadu (2003) Checklist of marine fauna of Tamil Nadu Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Available at -
  • Dr. Ramesh, R; Dr. Nammalwar, P and Dr. Gowri, VS (2008) Database on coastal information of Tamil Nadu Report Submitted to Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Centre, Department of Environment, Government of Tamil Nadu Institute for Ocean Management, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. 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 -
  • Myers, P; Espinosa, R; Parr, CS; Jones, T; Hammond, GS and Dewey, TA (2006) Animal diversity web 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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