Red-tailed Tropicbird (species: Phaethon rubricauda) in Sydney Marine Life (Gaia Guide)
Phaethon rubricauda
Red-tailed Tropicbird

©Caleb Slemmons: Red-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon rubricauda)

©Geoffrey: Red-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon rubricauda)

©Geoffrey: Red-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon rubricauda) chick
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Pelecaniformes
Family Phaethontidae
Genus Phaethon
Species Phaethon rubricauda
Status least concern



Distinguishing features

It looks like a stout tern, and hence closely resembles the other two tropicbird species. It has generally white plumage, often with a pink tinge, a black crescent around the eye and a thin red tail feather. It has a bright red bill and black feet. The legs are a long way toward the rear of the body making it very clumsy on land (and when landing). (Wikipedia)


  • From 86 cm to 90 cm (Including long tail feathers.)


  • From 99 cm to 119 cm



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

It nests on oceanic islands in large colonies from the Hawaiian Islands to Easter Island and across to Mauritius and the Reunion Island. In Australia, they nest on Queensland's coral islands (including Lady Elliott Island) and islands off Western Australia. They disperse widely after breeding, birds ringed in Hawaii have been recovered as far away as Japan and the Philippines. They range from the Red Sea to New Zealand and Chile. (Wikipedia)

Audio recordings


Red-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon rubricauda) female and male flight calls

© David M on Xeno Canto


Red-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon rubricauda) adult with nestling

© Mark Todd

Web resources