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Blue Noddy

Procelsterna cerulea
Blue Noddy

A small, delicate tern, the blue noddy is distinctive due to its pale plumage, with an all-grey head and upperparts and even paler white-grey underparts. The upperwing is slightly darker than the rest of the body, with grayer or brown tinged coverts and blackish primaries. The short tail is shallowly forked, and the black bill is short and slender. There is usually a white ring around the eyes, and a small black spot between the eye and the bill. The legs and feet are black, with pale webs. The male and female blue noddy do not differ in appearance, and juveniles are similar to the adults, but with brownish coloration on the upperparts, especially the crown.

Flight is characterized by constant and rapid wing beats. The blue noddy feeds nearshore,often with other species, by hover-dipping and surface-dipping. Blue noddies nest on a variety of substrates, but in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands mostly use crevices or cavities in ancient lava flows.

Blue noddies breed mainly on Necker and Nihoa, but small colonies also are present on La Perouse Pinnacle, French Frigate Shoals, and Gardner Pinnacles. Historically the species bred on Ka‘ula Island off of Ni‘ihau. Blue noddies typically remain near their breeding colonies year-round, and are rarely found far from land.

Facts About Blue Noddy

Feeds mainly on larval lizardfishes, flounders, goatfishes, and flyingfish, as well as squid, crustaceans, and insects
Life Span
15 years
Length: 25-28 cm (10-11 in); wingspan: 46-60 cm (18-24 in) 
Page Photo Credits — Beth Flint/USFWS
Last Updated: Apr 13, 2016
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