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Red-billed Tropicbird

The Red-billed Tropicbird (Phaethon aethereus), also known as the Boatswain Bird, is a species of tropicbird that occurs in the tropical Atlantic, eastern Pacific and Indian Oceans. It is one of three closely related seabirds of tropical waters.

The adult is a slender mainly white bird, 19 inches long excluding the very long central tail feathers, which double the total length. The wingspan is about 40 inches, and the long wings have black markings on the flight feathers. There is black through the eye. The bill is red. Sexes are similar, although males average longer tailed, but juveniles lack the tail streamers, are grayer-backed, and have a yellow bill.

The Red-billed Tropicbird breeds on tropical islands laying a single egg directly onto the ground or a cliff ledge. It disperses widely when not breeding, and sometimes wanders far, including an amazing record from Great Britain. One has recently been found in eastern Nova Scotia, Canada. They feed on fish and squid, but are poor swimmers.

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Red-billed Tropicbird


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