The Red-tailed Tropicbird, Phaethon rubricauda, is a seabird that nests across the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the rarest of the tropicbirds, yet is still a widespread bird that is not considered threatened. It nests in colonies on oceanic islands.
The Red-tailed Tropicbird looks like a stout tern, and hence closely resembles the other two tropicbird species. It has generally white plumage, often with a pink tinge, a black crescent around the eye and a thin red tail feather. It has a bright red bill and black feet.
Behaviour and Range
Red-tailed Tropicbirds nest on oceanic islands in large colonies from the Hawaiian Islands to Easter Island and across to Mauritius. They disperse widely after breeding, birds ringed in Hawaii have been recovered as far away as Japan and the Philippines. They range from the Red Sea to New Zealand and Chile.
When breeding they mainly choose coral atolls with low shrubs, nesting underneath them (or occasionally in limestone cavities. They feed offshore away from land, singly rather than in flocks. They are plunge-divers that feed on fish, mostly flying fish, and squid.