The White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon lepturus, is a tropicbird, smallest
of three closely related seabirds of the tropical oceans and smallest
member of the order Phaethontiformes. It occurs in the tropical
Atlantic, western Pacific and Indian Oceans. It also breeds on some
Caribbean islands, and a few pairs have started nesting recently on
Little Tobago, joining the Red-billed Tropicbird colony. In addition to
the tropical Atlantic, it nests as far north as Bermuda, where it is
locally called a "Longtail".
The White-tailed Tropicbird breeds on tropical islands laying a
single egg directly onto the ground or a cliff ledge. It disperses
widely across the oceans when not breeding, and sometimes wanders far.
It feeds on fish and squid, caught by surface plunging, but this species
is a poor swimmer. The call is a high screamed keee-keee-krrrt-krrt-krrt.
The adult White-tailed Tropicbird is a slender, mainly white bird,
71–80 cm long including the very long central tail feathers, which
double its total length. The wingspan is 89–96 cm, and there is a black
band on the inner wing There is black through the eye and the bill is
orange-yellow to orange red. The bill colour, pure white back and black
wing bar distinguish this species from Red-billed.
Sexes are similar, although males average longer tailed, but
juveniles lack the tail streamers, have a green-yellow bill, and a
finely barred back.