The Red-billed Tropicbird is split into three subspecies only one of which occurs in the northwest corner of the Indian Ocean. The remaining two, neotropical, subspecies breed on a number of offshore archipelagoes and islands between the two Tropics in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Caribbean. The species is fairly sedentary and can be found in the vicinity of their breeding localities all year long. In some Caribbean localities and in the mid-Atlantic, the Red-billed Tropicbird occurs with the White-tailed Tropicbird (Phaethon lepturus) but is easily separable by its mottled black and white back and deep red bill. The Red-billed Tropicbird feeds primarily by plunge-diving for its preferred food, flying-fish, and it has been known to even take flying fish on the wing.