Johnston CHSH

Tropicbirds, frigatebirds and boobies are medium-sized to large birds, distantly related to pelicans. All have webbing between all four toes, instead of three as in most other seabirds. Terns are small to medium-sized with narrow, graceful wings and thin, sharp bills. The common term noddy comes from the stereotyped head-nodding courtship displays between adults. 

  • Black Noddy

    Black noddy thumbnail

    The black noddy is smaller and darker than the brown noddy. The white on the forehead and crown is more distinct and extends further back. Black noddies are common on Johnston with many pairs nesting in trees on the main part of Johnston Island.

    Learn More
  • Bristle-thighed curlew

    Bristle-thighed curlew  thumbnail

    This migratory bird is unique among shorebirds because it becomes flightless during their autumnal molt.  

    Learn More
  • Brown Booby

    Brown booby  thumbnail

    The brown booby has a deep chocolate brown back and upper wing surface, and a sharply delineated white chest and underwing. Prey is taken by diving into the water followed by underwater pursuit. It builds a cuplike nest of dried vegetation and lays two eggs instead of one like other seabirds. However, usually only one chick is reared successfully.

    Learn More
  • Brown Noddy

    Brown noddy  thumbnail

    Brown noddies are gray-brown birds with an indistinct gray-white forehead and crown. The legs, feet, and bill are black. Their common name comes from the stereotyped head nodding courtship displays between adults. Several thousand nest on Sand, North, and East Islands, making this the second most numerous species using Johnston Atoll.

    Learn More
  • Bulwer's petrel

    Bulwers petrel  thumbnail

    The Bulwer's petrel is the smallest of the group. They are sooty-brown birds with lighter bars on the upper wing, a short wedge-shaped tail, and black legs and feet. Sixty to 70 pairs of this small seabird nest in the rocky crevices of the causeway on Sand Island. The oldest known Bulwer's petrel, banded 22 years ago, was discovered there in 1993.

    Learn More
  • Christmas shearwater

    Christmas shearwater  thumbnail

    Christmas shearwaters have a short, rounded tail and dark plumage, legs, and feet. Competition with the larger wedge-tails is probably responsible for limiting their abundance to fewer than 100 birds at Johnston.

    Learn More
  • Gray-backed Tern

    Gray-backed tern  thumbnail

    Gray-backed terns are smaller than sooty terns but similar in general appearance. The upper surfaces are gray, and the white blaze over the face and eyes extends well behind the eyes. Nesting in this species begins early in the year since harassment by sooty terns can severely reduce breeding success. Six to seven hundred pairs breed on North Island each year during the summer.

    Learn More
  • Great Frigatebird

    Great frigatebird

    The great frigatebird is the largest seabird on Johnston Atoll. It has a forked tail, hooded bill, and a 7-foot wingspan. The adult males possess bright red throat pouches that they inflate during the breeding season. Among the most efficient of soarers, it glides on the wind or thermal updrafts, often harassing other seabirds and stealing their catch. Their aggressive habits extend to the nesting grounds, where they take unattended eggs and chicks of even their own species.

    Learn More
  • Masked Booby

    Masked booby  thumbnail

    The masked booby is the largest of the booby species and, like the brown booby, lays two eggs(but raises only one chick) in a small, insignificant scrape on bare earth. It is all white with a black trailing edge on the wings and has a yellow bill and a small, black face mask. Its bright golden eyes are a very distinctive feature when observed close-up.

    Learn More
  • Pacific Golden Plover

    Pacific golden plovers  thumbnail

    This migratory shorebird breeds in western Alaska and Siberia and winters on islands across the Pacific Ocean, through southeast Asia, to northeastern Africa. It is uncommon in North America, found breeding in Alaska, and migrating and wintering in small numbers along the Pacific Coast.

    Learn More
  • Red-footed Booby

    Red-footed booby  thumbnail

    The red-footed booby has a white body and wings except for dark tips. The legs and feet are an unmistakable bright red, and the beak is light blue. There is also a common, light brown adult color phase. The chicks of mated adults of the two color phases may develop into adults of odd colorations ranging from mottled to sharply bicolored appearances.

    Learn More
  • Red-tailed Tropicbird

    Red-tailed tropicbird  thumbnail

    Red-tailed Tropicbirds are white with two long, thin red tailfeathers. The bill is bright red, and the eyes are lined with black. Immature birds have black barring over the back and upper wing surfaces. They are tolerant of human activity but susceptible to cat, dog, and rat predation. Several thousand red-tailed tropicbirds use Johnston Island, with current increased populations probably resulting from the increased amount of vegetation.

    Learn More
  • Ruddy Turnstone

    Ruddy turnstone thumbnail

    As their name suggests, turnstones often forage by turning over stones and other objects.  

    Learn More
  • Sanderling

    Sanderling  thumbnail

    The sanderling is one of the world’s most widespread shorebirds. Though they nest only in the High Arctic, in fall and winter you can find them on nearly all temperate and tropical sandy beaches throughout the world 

    Learn More
  • Sooty Tern

    Sooty tern  thumbnail

    The sooty tern sports long, narrow wings, is black on top and white on the neck and stomach. The forked tail, harsh screeching calls, and extensive breeding colonies distinguish them as Johnston's most abundant bird with an estimated 150,000 breeding pairs on the small outer islands. It has a brash, somewhat aggressive personality when in breeding colonies and will readily walk or fly up to intruders. Breeding activity can be unpredictable, and can occur throughout the year.

    Learn More
  • Wandering Tattler

    Wandering tattler thumbnail

    The name "wandering" refers to its widespread occurrence over vast portions of ocean. "Tattler" refers to its voice; its alarm notes alert other birds to a hunter's presence. 

    Learn More
  • Wedge-tailed shearwater

    Wedge-tailed shearwater thumbnail

    The wedge-tailed shearwater is the largest of the local shearwaters and has a distinctly wedge-shaped tail and flesh-colored legs and feet. A single egg is laid in a chamber at the end of a burrow that may be 6 feet long. Burrows are dug with the bill and feet and reexcavated and renovated before each breeding season. Three to four thousand of these birds use the natural portion of Sand Island as a nesting site, for the dense roots of the Lepturus grass support the burrow walls. Their unique moaning calls at night can give the colonies an eerie character.

    Learn More
  • White-tailed Tropicbird

    White-tailed tropicbird thumbnail

    White-tailed tropicbirds are white birds with two long, thin white tail feathers. The wing edges and eyes are lined with black, and the bill is yellow. Viewed from below, the birds appear to be pure white. This species prefers to nest on cliffs, but nests recently have been found on the ground under shrubs on Johnston Island.

    Learn More
  • White Tern

    White tern thumbnail1

    The white tern is unmistakable with its pure white plumage and black bill. Its habit of fluttering curiously over visitors assures that its presence will be noticed. A single egg is laid directly on a tree branch, a ledge, or on any suitable surface. The growth of trees on Johnston ensures that the population of this attractive bird will continue to increase.

    Learn More