White-tailed Tropicbird

Phaethon lepturus dorotheae
White tailed tropicbird

Adult birds have mostly white plumage with long, white, tail streamers. Tail feathers are visible while the bird is in flight as compared to the Red-tailed tropicbird. Black eye-stripe from gape curving towards and passing through eye. Diagonal black stripe across upperwings. Yellowish to orange bill, yellowish legs and feet with black webs.

Courting birds fly in parallel, with streamers from bird above turned downward toward mate. They fly together in shallow glides.

They begin nesting at four years of age and nest year round with peak activity from March through October. On Midway, birds nest in cavities of tree limbs, root bases of ironwood trees (Casuarina equisetfolia) and/or other secluded spots. A single egg is laid and incubated (40-42 days) by both adults. Average incubation shift lengths range from about 4-8 days. Chicks are tightly brooded for the few days after hatching. Unlike other Pelicaniformes, adults regurgitate food by putting their bills down the gaping chick's throat. Average chick fledge times vary between 10-12 weeks.

Facts About White-tailed Tropicbird

Typically solitary feeders though sometimes seen in pairs. With folded wings, white-tails hit the water and completely submerge to seize and swallow prey before flight. Prey consists of fish and squid.
Life Span
16 years
Length: 38-40 cm (15-16 in), 71-81 cm (28-32 in) including tail streamers; wingspan: 89-94 cm (35-38 in)