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White-tailed Tropicbird Phaethon lepturus
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern

Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type   Average mass -


  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 80,300 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 14,400,000 medium
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor Estimated 2009
Population trend Decreasing -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 11.1 - - -
Population justification: The global population is estimated to number > c.50,000 individuals (del Hoyo et al. 1992), while the population in Japan has been estimated at < c.50 individuals on migration (Brazil 2009).
Trend justification: The population is suspected to be in decline owing to predation by invasive species.

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Angola Vagrant Extant        
Anguilla (to UK) Native Extant        
Antigua and Barbuda Native Extant        
Australia Native Extant        
Bahamas Native Extant        
Barbados Native Extant        
Belize Native Extant        
Benin Unknown Extant        
Bermuda (to UK) Native Extant Yes      
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Brazil Native Extant        
British Indian Ocean Territory Native Extant Yes      
Cameroon Native Extant        
Canada Native Extant        
Cayman Islands (to UK) Native Extant        
Chile Native Extant        
China (mainland) Native Extant        
Christmas Island (to Australia) Native Extant        
Cocos (Keeling) Islands (to Australia) Native Extant Yes      
Colombia Native Extant        
Comoros Native Extant        
Côte d'Ivoire Unknown Extant        
Cuba Native Extant        
Curaçao (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Dominica Native Extant        
Dominican Republic Native Extant        
Equatorial Guinea Native Extant        
Fiji Native Extant       Yes
French Guiana Unknown Extant        
French Polynesia Native Extant        
Gabon Unknown Extant        
Ghana Vagrant Extant        
Grenada Native Extant        
Guadeloupe (to France) Unknown Extant        
Guam (to USA) Native Extant   Yes    
Guatemala Native Extant        
Guyana Unknown Extant        
Haiti Native Extant        
Honduras Unknown Extant        
India Native Extant        
Indonesia Native Extant        
Jamaica Native Extant Yes      
Japan Native Extant        
Kenya Native Extant        
Liberia Vagrant Extant        
Madagascar Native Extant        
Malaysia Native Extant        
Maldives Native Extant Yes      
Marshall Islands Native Extant Yes      
Martinique (to France) Native Extant        
Mauritius Native Extant Yes      
Mayotte (to France) Native Extant        
Mexico Native Extant        
Micronesia, Federated States of Native Extant Yes      
Montserrat (to UK) Native Extant        
Mozambique Native Extant        
Myanmar Native Extant        
Nauru Native Extant        
New Caledonia (to France) Native Extant        
New Zealand Vagrant Extant        
Nigeria Unknown Extant        
Northern Mariana Islands (to USA) Native Extant Yes      
Palau Native Extant Yes      
Panama Vagrant Extant        
Philippines Native Extant        
Puerto Rico (to USA) Native Extant Yes      
Réunion (to France) Native Extant Yes      
São Tomé e Príncipe Native Extant        
Seychelles Native Extant Yes      
Sint Maarten (to Netherlands) Native Extant        
Solomon Islands Native Extant        
South Africa Native Extant        
Sri Lanka Native Extant        
St Helena (to UK) Native Extant Yes      
St Kitts and Nevis Native Extant        
St Lucia Native Extant        
St Martin (to France) Native Extant        
St Vincent and the Grenadines Native Extant        
Suriname Unknown Extant        
Taiwan (China) Native Extant        
Tanzania Native Extant        
Thailand Native Extant        
Timor-Leste Vagrant Extant        
Togo Unknown Extant        
Tonga Native Extant        
Trinidad and Tobago Native Extant        
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Native Extant Yes      
United States Minor Outlying Islands (to USA) Native Extant        
USA Native Extant   Yes    
Vanuatu Native Extant        
Venezuela Unknown Extant        
Virgin Islands (to UK) Native Extant Yes      
Virgin Islands (to USA) Native Extant Yes      
Wallis and Futuna Islands (to France) Native Extant Yes      

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
American Samoa National Park of American Samoa - Ta'u site factsheet
American Samoa National Park of American Samoa - Tutuila site factsheet
American Samoa Tutuila Marine site factsheet
American Samoa West Tutuila site factsheet
Bahamas Booby Rocks and Pirates Bay site factsheet
Bahamas Conception Island site factsheet
Bahamas Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park site factsheet
Bahamas Graham's Harbour site factsheet
Bahamas North Atlantic Abaco Cays site factsheet
Bahamas Southern Abaco site factsheet
Bermuda (to UK) Cooper's Island and Castle Islands site factsheet
Christmas Island (to Australia) Christmas Island site factsheet
Dominica L'llet site factsheet
Dominica Point Des Foux site factsheet
French Southern Territories Europa site factsheet
Indonesia Pulau Manuk site factsheet
Mauritius Round Island site factsheet
Micronesia, Federated States of Kosrae Marine site factsheet
Puerto Rico (to USA) Acantilados del Noroeste site factsheet
Seychelles Aldabra Special Reserve site factsheet
Seychelles Aride Island Special Reserve site factsheet
Seychelles Cousin Island Special Reserve site factsheet
Seychelles Cousine island site factsheet
St Helena (to UK) Boatswainbird Island site factsheet
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Fish Ponds and Crossing Place Trail, Middle Caicos site factsheet
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Turks Bank Seabird Cays site factsheet
USA Kauai Forests and Uplands site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Sea Cliffs and Rocky Offshore Islands major breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp major breeding
Marine Neritic Macroalgal/Kelp major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic major breeding
Marine Neritic Pelagic major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) major breeding
Marine Neritic Seagrass (Submerged) major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Loose Rock/pebble/gravel major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Rock and Rocky Reefs major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy major non-breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud major breeding
Marine Neritic Subtidal Sandy-Mud major non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) major breeding
Marine Oceanic Epipelagic (0-200m) major non-breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) major breeding
Marine Oceanic Mesopelagic (200-1000m) major non-breeding
Altitude 0 - 0 m Occasional altitudinal limits  


Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Phaethon lepturus. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Phaethontidae (Tropicbirds)
Species name author Daudin, 1802
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 80,300 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species