Galapagos Red-billed Tropicbird Facts

Name: Red-Billed Tropicbird
Family: Phaethontidae
Scientific Name: Phaethon aethereus
Length: 90 - 105 cm (35 - 41 in)
Weight: 1.7 lbs
Wingspan: 99 - 106 cm (39 - 41 in)

Category: Sea Birds
Number of Species: 47
Endemic Species: 13

In total, 47 species of sea birds have been recorded in the Galapagos, 19 of which are resident to the Islands. The sea birds therefore account for nearly one third of all the species ever recorded in the islands and about the same proportion of the resident species.

Seabirds can be conveniently divided into 12 groups, as show in the table below. This shows the number of species recorded in each group and summarizes their status. If also shows the number of endemic species and the number of other species which are represented by endemic subspecies. Species are treated as migrants if they occur annually, vagrants being those recorded less frequently.

General Description:
Tropicbirds are predominantly white seabirds, resembling gulls and terns in size and structure. They are distinguished from these birds in adult plumage by their elongated central tail feathers and in all plumages by a black 'mask' through the eye. The bill is stout and slightly decurved and the legs are short with webbed feet. The sexes are alike. Tropicbirds feed at sea, flying low over the water and plunging to catch their food. They are often seen resting on the water with the tail raised.

Red-billed tropicbirds are common residents of Galapagos; population estimated to be a few thousand pairs in about 30 colonies. Nests colonially in rocky crevices or on the bare ground, breeding throughout the year.

ADULT: Large, mainly white seabird with a bright red bill, yellow legs and very long, white central tail-streamers (46-56 cm). Broad black eye-stripe extends back towards the nape. Upper parts have fine grey barring. In flight shows black primaries. JUVENILE: Similar to adult, but lacks the tail-streamers, has a yellow bill, and the black eye-stripes meet at the nape.

ADULT:A loud, shrill ratde, "kree-kree-kree".

Feeds by hovering and plunge-diving, usually far from land. Flight is graceful, alternating fluttering wing beats with gliding. Often seen resting on the sea with the tail raised.

Galapagos Red-billed Tropicbird