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Red-billed Tropic bird

Red-billed Tropic bird
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2003-07-07
Categories: Birds
Exposure: f/2.5, 1/60 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Tropicbirds [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2010-02-06 13:42
Viewed: 7613
Points: 40
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I took this shot with a very early digital camera in 2004 on Little Tobago. We were with a guide and this was a 'certified nest' - ie we were allowed to view it under guidance.

Tropicbirds are a family, Phaethontidae, of tropical pelagic seabirds now classified in their own order Phaethontiformes. Their relationship to other living birds is unclear, and they appear to have no close relatives. There are three species in one genus Phaethon. They have predominately white plumage with elongated tail feathers and small feeble legs and feet.

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

The Indian Ocean race of the Red-billed Tropicbird, P. a. indicus, was at one time considered a full species, the Lesser Red-billed Tropicbird from Pakistan and the western Republic of India.

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.

The adult is a slender mainly white bird, 48 cm long excluding the very long central tail feathers, which double the total length. The wingspan is about 1 metre, 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 greyer-backed, and have a yellow bill.

P. a. indicus has a reduced black eyestripe, and a more orange-tinted bill.

The Red-billed Tropicbird is set to be featured on the currency of Bermuda, despite having a negligible presence there. The bird was selected over Bermuda's national bird, the endemic Bermuda Petrel, and the native White-tailed Tropicbird. The story was carried globally by the Associated Press.

Little Tobago (or Bird of Paradise Island) is a small island off the northeastern coast of Tobago, and part of the republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The island is about 1 square kilometre in area and is located at 11 18' north latitude and 60 31' west longitude, approximately 2.4 km from Speyside. The highest point on the island is approximately 137 m above sea level.

The island supports dry forest. It is an important breeding site for seabirds such as Red-billed Tropicbird, Audubon's Shearwater, Brown Booby, Brown Noddy, Sooty and Bridled Terns. A few pairs of White-tailed Tropicbirds have also recently started nesting here.

Little Tobago is also a good site from which to see birds which breed on neighbouring small islands, including Red-footed Booby and Magnificent Frigatebird. The latter species is frequently seen harassing the tropicbirds, boobies and terns.

The sea between Tobago and Little Tobago is shallow, and glass-bottomed boats such as that shown below enable the attractive corals and brightly-coloured tropical fish to be seen on the crossing. It is a popular area for snorkeling and diving, especially on Angel Reef in front of Goat Island.

bobair, fyapici, eng55, roges, boreocypriensis, jaycee, CeltickRanger, horias, nasokoun, Argus, anel, uleko, nagraj, xTauruSx, lovenature has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi James,
this photo is not bad for a photo taken with a point and shoot camera and the only thing that hurts the image somewhat is the flash as it makes the image look a little harsh to my eyes,still it must of been wonderful to see this bird none the less.I am a very big fan of birds and that is all birds from the most common to the rarest and most exotic,I just love them.I somethings wish if only for a day to be a bird and fly and be as free as they seem to be.I am near sighted so to be a bird would be even more wonderful as I have VHS vision and the birds have Blueray vision in a manner of speaking or in other words I'm jealous of their eye sight.It was in 2004 I purchased my first digital camera and it too was a Canon.The point and shoot model served me for a couple of years but it soon became a tiresome thing when it came to photoing wildlife so I decided to go SLR and have not looked back ever since.James you are very well travelled and have seen so many great things in your travels and it is always a joy to see your work even if I do not always say anything about your contributions to this site,I do see and enjoy your efforts.Keep on touring around this world of ours and come back to Canada when you get the chance as I know you will photo this place I call home with great aplomb.


  • Great 
  • eng55 Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1256 W: 42 N: 1976] (5892)
  • [2010-02-06 14:26]

Hi James,
Very interesting bird.I'd never seen it before.well caught,framed and composed.Havea nice sunday!
Thanks for posting..

Hi James.

Perhaps this photo doesn't perform artistic photography rules, but it is quite enough to show this species in its natural home. Sometimes scientific and documantary photos are most important than artistic one. If you didn't take and didn't post here, we have never seen this beautiful tropical bird. Thus I like your work and congrat with this capture. Thanks for sharing.


Hi Bro James,

Excellent composition and great POV, the exposure looks great. Incredible work MF!
TFS and havea a nice night and Sunday!


  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2010-02-06 14:55]

Hi James,

I know for sure that I have never seen this bird before. And since I have no plans to visit Tobago there is a good chance I never would have known it existed. I love the coy pose in his nest. The patterns on the white feathers are beautiful as is the black eye mask. We all benefit from your travels.


  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2010-02-06 15:56]

Hi James,not just a bird pic,but a very nice composition taken from a strange point of view and whit excellents sharpness and colors...very professional work,have a nice Sunday and thanks,LUCIANO

hello James

beautiful photo of this Tropicbird on the nest, fine POV, DOF,
fine focus sharpness and details, beautiful eye-contact, TFS


  • Great 
  • manyee Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3089 W: 230 N: 6774] (23770)
  • [2010-02-06 22:19]

That is one beautiful bird, James.
I wish we could see it with the long tail hanging down all the way.
But seeing it in a nest with a young is awesome.
Lovely colors and sharp details.
Thanks for sharing this rare bird.

  • Great 
  • zetu Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 967 W: 26 N: 3888] (16941)
  • [2010-02-06 22:28]

Hello James
Thanks for sharing this beauty.

  • Great 
  • horias Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 837 W: 58 N: 2084] (11033)
  • [2010-02-06 22:59]

Hi James
What a interesting bird this Red-billed Tropicbird from Little Tobago!
Details and colors are beautiful!

hello my friend James,
your enviable travels are continued, this is a fine shot with flash, the colors output is very good, a beautiful scene and photo in the environment of his nest!
keep photographing! TFS

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2010-02-06 23:47]

Hello James,
A great one from your archives that evokes a fine memory for us. At Christmas 1995 we on the same trip and took a similar shot of a brooding Red-billed Tropicbird on Little Tobago that we have scanned but the result is not as good as this compact camera shot.
Thanks and kind regards,

Hello James,
a superb portrait of the Red-billed Tropicbird on the nest, outstanding sharpness and splendid colours, excellent POV and close composition
Have a good Sunday

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2010-02-07 1:34]

Hello James,
Oops, a photo from 2003. Not in top quality, but to see a Red-billed Tropicbird is an experience you shall never forget, I think. These birds are so beautiful. Good sharpness and details. Beautiful environment.

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2010-02-07 2:06]

Hello James,
Nice to have found this interesting picture in your archives. There are not so many pictures from Trinidad and Tobago on this site. This "Little Tobago" seems to be most interesting for birds-lovers! And the bird you present, not something well-known, I think it might even be a first on TN.
The black stripes on the head recall slightly a monk's tonsure :-)
Thanks a lot for this special posting
Kind regards

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2010-02-07 4:28]

Hello James,
This certainly brings back lovely memories from Tobago where I most of all enjoyed the snorkling though! We may have seen this lovely species in the same guarded place then but never got a good capture of it. Yours is beautiful showing it clearly in a fine composition. Lovely colours too!
Many thannks and regards, Ulla

  • Great 
  • nagraj Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1618 W: 106 N: 3208] (15166)
  • [2010-02-07 7:30]

Very good and interesting image with good notes to follow. tfs.

Hi James.
Interesting and very good capture.
Well done.
Best greetings.Alin.

Hekllo james,
Beautiful shot of this lovely bird with nice details and composition.
TFS and regards,

Hello James
A lovely and unique looking Red-billed Tropicbird you captured. Her red bill stands out nicely. Nice colour and lighting, and very interesting notes.
TFS Janice

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