Red Tailed Tropic Bird, Paille en Queue
Phaethon rubricauda and Phaethon lepturus
Photo: Dr. Nik Cole
Description: There are three different species of Tropic Bird which are found throughout the tropical parts of the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Two of which are found in Mauritius where they are known as paille en queue (straw tail) because of their characteristic long thin central tail feathers which account for about half their length.
The white-tailed tropic bird has a black band on the inner wing, white tail feathers and an orange-yellow to orange red bill in contrast to the red-tailed tropicbird which has no black band, red tail feathers and a bright red bill. The plumage of the red-tailed tropicbird often has a pinkish tinge. The red-tailed tropicbird is larger than the white-tailed and less common. Tropic birds feed at sea, mainly on fish, particularly flying fish, but may supplement this with squid and crustaceans.