Millions of central Pacific seabirds congregate on the Hawaiian Islands National Wildlife Refuge to breed. They nest in burrows and cliffs, on the ground, and in trees and shrubs. For some species, it is their only breeding site. Although a few of the islands (notably Laysan Island) were decimated by introduced mammals, many of the islets and atolls have been relatively untouched by humans. The importance of seabirds was recognized with the refuge's establishment at the turn of the century. Since then, protection and active management have resulted in large, diverse, and relatively intact seabird populations.

  • Black-footed Albatross

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    Has a keen sense of smell, which it uses to locate food across vast expanses of ocean. It drinks seawater and excretes excess salt through glands above the eyes. 

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  • Laysan Albatross

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    Best known for its gliding flight, awkward landings, and elaborate courtship rituals. 

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  • Short-tailed Albatross

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    Contrary to its name, its tail is no shorter than that of the Laysan or black-footed.  

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  • Brown Booby

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    Feeds by flying over the ocean looking for schools of fish, and then diving like a dart, with its wings streamlined against its body.  

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  • Masked Booby

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    Although this booby regularly lays two eggs, it never raises two young. The first egg is laid four to nine days before the second, and the older chick always ejects the second from the nest.  

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  • Red-footed Booby

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    Well adapted for diving and feature long bills, lean and aerodynamic bodies, closeable nostrils, and long wings which they wrap around their bodies before entering the water.  

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  • Great Frigatebird

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    Perhaps the most striking feature of frigatebirds is the male's red throat pouch, which the male inflates into a large red balloon during courtship displays.  

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  • Blue Noddy

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    Because if its small gape, this noddy is restricted to feeding on tiny fish, squid, sea-skaters and small crustaceans.

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  • Black Noddy

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    Typically remains within 50 miles of its breeding colonies year-round. Courtship consists of head nodding and fish transfers. 

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  • Brown Noddy

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    The largest member of the noddy family; they weigh twice as much as black noddies. Chicks reach adult weight in 18 days. Most chicks outweigh parents in six weeks. 

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  • Bonin Petrel

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    This seabird is a small gadfly petrel that lives in the waters of the north west Pacific and nests on islands south of Japan and in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.  

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  • Bulwer's Petrel

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    Breed on rocky islets and atolls, nesting in rock crevices, rock or coral rubble, under vegetation, and man-made nest structures. 

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  • Tristram's Storm Petrel

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    Feeds by dipping prey from the ocean’s surface on the wing, often pattering the water with its feet.  

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  • Christmas Shearwater

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    As in other shearwaters, the legs of the Christmas shearwater are set far back on its body and it moves with an awkward, waddling gait on land, often shuffling along on its breast.  

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  • Wedge-tailed Shearwater

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    Emits an eerie, wailing call from its burrow during the night, comprising of an inhaling component, ‘OOO’, and an exhaling component ‘errr’. This ghost-like sound gives rise to the Hawaiian name for this species, ‘ua’u kani’, which means ‘calling or moaning petrel’. 

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  • Gray-backed Tern

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    Breed on remote islands and atolls. Nests are constructed in a variety of habitats (e.g., rocky ledges, open, sandy beaches) but usually at the base of shrubs or refuse.

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  • Sooty Tern

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    Nest in large, dense colonies consisting of thousands to a million pairs of terns. Nests are shallow scrapes often lined with bits of shell or vegetation.  

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  • White Tern

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    Famous for laying its egg on a rock, a rock ledge, or a bare branch rather than in a nest. An egg laid in an exposed and precarious place results in a chick that must cling to the perch. 

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  • Red-tailed Tropicbird

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    Adult males and females are mostly white, except for partial black eye ring and short eye line, black flanks, and black shafts of outer primaries; both sexes have long, narrow, tail feathers with red shafts.  

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  • White-tailed Tropicbird

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    In the air these birds exploit their long wingspan and streamlined body shape to attain impressive altitudes by soaring upwards on rising thermals.  

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