Phaethon lepturus


The White-tailed Tropicbird is a primarily a solitary feeder, though sometimes seen in pairs. They catch their prey by diving, with wings half-folded, into the water. The catch is swallowed before re-taking flight. The prey consists of fish and squid.


General: Sexes similar. 32 inches in length, including tail streamers.

Adult: Almost entirely white plumage. Black eye stripe that extends and curves towards the gape. Yellow to orangish bill. Black outer primaries. Black diagonal stripe across upperwings. Yellowish legs and feet, with black webbing. Long, white tail streamers.

Immature: Similar to adult, except lacks tail streamers and has a finely barred back.


Pelagic, only comes ashore to breed.


1 pinkish egg with brown speckles. The egg has a 40-42 day incubation period. Fledging occurs in 70-84 days. The egg is incubated by both parents in shift lengths of 4-8 days. The nest is typically a cliff or tree cavity.

Observed Locations:

  • Kilauea Point Lighthouse, Kauaui, HI

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Kilauea NWR

Kilauea NWR



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