Red-Billed Tropicbird

Range Map
Phaethon aethereus

There are three subspecies of Red-Billed Tropicbird, but as you might expect from a bird so named, they all live in tropical waters of the Atlantic, Caribbean, Pacific, and Indian oceans.

  • P. a. mesonauta breeds in the eastern Pacific, Caribbean and eastern Atlantic.
  • P. a. aethereus breeds in the south Atlantic.
  • P. a. indicus breeds in the Persian Gulf, Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea.

These birds nest on remote islands, and settle on high cliffs, where take-offs are easy. Some colonies breed seasonally, while others extend their breeding throughout much of the year. They lay a single egg in a crevice or on a scrape, and the young take about three months to fledge.

I met Red-Billed Tropicbirds during the 2017 science expedition I participated in to the Revillagigedo Islands 600 miles off the coast of Colima, Mexico. Our first stop to Isla San Benedicto provided several encounters, but it was at Isla Clarion I captured my favorite images of this species.

Click map markers to reveal further information