November 8, 2019
AZ Animals Staff
Distinctive Feature: Long pointed beak and large body size
Wingspan: 95cm - 115cm (37in - 45in)
Habitat: Tropical islands and cliffs
Favorite Food: Fish
Average Clutch Size: 1
Slogan: Nests on tropical islands and cliffs!
Tropicbird Physical Characteristics:Colour: Black, White, Brown, Yellow
Skin Type: Feathers
Top Speed: 30 mph
Lifespan: 10 - 16 years
Weight: 0.3kg - 0.7kg (0.6lbs - 1.5lbs)
Length: 75cm - 100cm (30in - 40in)
The tropicbird is a large species of sea bird found nesting on the warmer cliffs and islands that dot our oceans. Despite having been thought to be closely related to other large sea birds such as pelicans, boobies and frigatebirds, the tropicbird has been recently classified in a group of its own.
There are three different species of tropicbird found throughout the tropical Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. The exact range and location depends on the species of tropicbird, although all three species can be found in parts of all the major oceans.
Tropicbirds are large-sized birds and can grow to up to a meter in height. The three different tropicbird species are the red-billed tropicbird, the red-tailed tropicbird and the white-tailed tropicbird, all of which are generally white in colour with long tail feathers, and thin spindly legs.
Tropicbirds are known to catch their prey by plunging into the surface of the water in order to snap up their dinner. Away from their breeding colonies, tropicbirds are generally solitary animals usually seen hunting on their own or in a pair.
Like other sea birds, tropicbirds are carnivorous animals as they feed primarily on fish. The flying fish is a favourite meal for the tropicbird along with the occasional squid or crustacean. The method of hunting used by tropicbirds is known as plunge-diving, and is common practise for many sea birds.
Due to their large size and airborne lifestyle, the tropicbird has few (if any) natural predators in its environment. The primary predators of the tropicbird are small carnivores such as dogs, stouts and cats that have been introduced to areas by humans, and generally hunt the smaller tropicbird chicks.
Tropicbirds nest in dips, crevices and holes on the ground in large breeding colonies, usually found on cliff tops or small tropical islands. The female tropicbird lays a single egg, which hatches after being incubated by both parents for about 6 weeks. Both the male and female tropicbirds then feed their chick together until it fledges (flies away from the nest), at around 3 months old.
Today, tropicbird populations still seem to be thriving as they have not come under threat from drastic habitat loss. However, the arrival of non-native species to islands and increasing levels of water pollution, both have an affect on tropicbird populations.
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