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Anous minutus

Black Noddy

  • Order: Charadriiformes
  • Family: Laridae

Authors: Contreras-González, A.M., C. Rodríguez-Flores, C. Soberanes-González & M.C. Arizmendi

Noddies are peculiar terns; first of all they look like a negative image of a tern. Instead of a white bird with a black cap, we have a dark bird with a white cap. The Black Noddy, as compared to the slightly larger Brown Noddy (Anous stolidus) is blacker, with a more cleanly set off white cap and a longer and thinner bill. Second of all they have a peculiar name which derives from one of their breeding displays in which the members of the pair nod at each other. Noddies are tropical terns, nesting in colonies on islands, sometimes well offshore. In the Americas they nest in the Caribbean, tropical Atlantic and Pacific oceans where they broadly overlap with the Brown Noddy. Black Noddies depend on large predatory fish, such as tunas, to drive bait fish to the surface where they become accessible to the birds. Unlike most terns, noddies do not dive in the water, they pick food off the water’s surface, or they may plunge into the water without fully submersing. Genetic data shows that the noddies are the oldest branch in the tern family tree, explaining why some behaviors, plumage and even morphology is so different from more typical terns.

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Recommended Citation

Contreras-González, A.M., C. Rodríguez-Flores, C. Soberanes-González & M.C. Arizmendi. 2010. Black Noddy (Anous minutus), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=162421

This map is based on the maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website. The data for these maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

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