There are only three species of all black terns in our region.
The Black Tern
is smaller than the two species of noddy terns, and they have white
underwings. Non-breeding Black Terns are not entirely black. Of the two
noddy terns, the Black Noddy is smaller (14-15 inches; 35-39 cm, total
length) than the Brown Noddy (16-18 inches; 40-45 cm total length). As
it's name implies this species is darker. It also has a smaller but
longer bill. That said, the two Atlantic noddies would be very
difficult to identify in flight at sea or even when both species are
not available for direct comparison. Note the Brown Noddy in the foreground of the picture above.
Sexes alike. No seasonal variation. Extensive white cap (more
so than in
Brown Noddy or immature Black Noddy). Live to be 25 years or more.
distinct from that of Brown Noddy.
adult except less white on crown, whitish forehead and crown sharply
demarcated from black nape. Upper wing coverts and secondaries tipped
with buff giving the back a scaled appearance.
of three species of noddy terns (Anous):
two of these occur in the
tropical Atlantic. The Lesser Noddy of the Pacific and Indian Oceans is
sometimes considered conspecific with the Black Noddy. The subspecies
of Black Noddy occurring in Caribbean basin is endemic. There are seven
subspecies of Black Noddy, two of which occurs in the Atlantic, with A. n. americanus
restricted to the Caribbean while A.
n. atlanticus breeds on oceanic islands in the south
birds roost at their breeding sites throughout the year.
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. For the most part restricted in our region
to the Caribbean Sea, and rarely in the Gulf of Mexico, possibly in
Gulf Stream. Most birds remain at or near breeding islands throughout
the entire year.
sedentary remaining at nesting islands throughout year. Rest on flotsam
and ships at sea. Birds also roost on the water, sometimes in rafts.
They feed in
lagoons and inshore (< 10 km from land) over schooling,
predatory fish. Prey include small fish, crustaceans and squid. Birds
dip and plunge at the surface and do not dive. They are diurnal and
land to roost at night.
only in bushes and small trees. Typically found nesting with Brown
Noddys. Nests are made of twigs, leafy vegetation grasses or seaweed.
Females lay a single egg, pale buff in color. Incubation period is long
for the size of
the egg: 33-34 days. Fledge in 40-50 days. Parents feed young for
months after fledging.
the Brown Noddy is one of the most abundant species in the region, the
Black Noddy appears to be the rarest. Formerly nested off Belize where
over 1,000 pairs were reported. In Florida, one or two pairs occur
regularly and may nest on Dry Tortugas. In Anguilla (Sombero)
pairs; Puerto Rico, Culebra, Noroeste Cay, “a few;” Aruba “a few.”
Islands off Venezuela, probably hundreds or pairs. Total North Atlantic
population probably between 100 and 300 pairs. South Atlantic (A. m. atlanticus)
population small but secure.
Aves (Venezuela Coast)
this species also occurs in the Pacific and south Atlantic it is
extremely rare in the North Atlantic. The only major known colony was
off Belize. It was first discovered in 1862 and supported over 1000
nesting pairs. This colony disappeared prior to 1970. The Black Noddy
is considered as critically endangered in the West Indies (Schreiber
and Lee 2000).
of nesting islands, including patrols, enforcement, and monitoring for
exotic mammals (predators and browsing species). Cats and rats have
been shown to cause declines in Pacific populations.
populations (Pacific) have responded favorably as native vegetation
regenerates, and negatively when habitat is altered. Not particularly
impacted by human activity such as brief visitation to colonies.
However, visitations to islands by tourists, boaters and fishermen
needs to be controlled. The extent of modern day egging in most of
the West Indies remains unknown and because of the small size of the
regional population any factor that could possibly impact these terns
need to be considered.
surveys of nesting colonies are needed to document changes in
numbers of breeding pairs.
information available on this species in the region. Surveys of Brown
Noddy colonies for individual pairs of nesting Black Noddys would be
helpful, including reporting information that no Black Noddys were
of its behavior at sea and its rarity, it is unlikely that this species
will be encountered by commercial fisheries operations.
R. B. and P. A. Buckley. 1984. Status and conservation of seabirds in
the southeastern United States, Pp. 135-155. In J. P. Croxall, P. G.
Evans and R. W. Schreiber (eds). Status and Conservation of the World's
Seabirds. ICBP Tech. Publ., No. 2. 778 p.
J. W., R. Morris, and R. L. Norton. 2000. Status and conservation needs
of brown noddies and black noddies in the West Indies. Pp. 118-125. In
E. A. Schreiber and D. S. Lee (eds.) Status and Conservation of West
Indian Seabirds. Society of Caribbean Ornithology, Special Publication
Number 1. 225 pp.
V. H. 1999. Black Noddy (Anous minutus). In The Birds of North America,
No. 412 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc.,
J. A. 2002. Waterbird Conservation for the Americas: the North American
Waterbird Conservation Plan, Version 1. Waterbird Conservation for the
Americas, Washington, DC, USA., 78 pp.
R. L. 1989. First West Indian report of the Black Noddy and nesting of
Masked Booby at Sombrero Island, Lesser Antilles. Colonial Waterbirds.
O. 1864. A fortnight amongst the sea-birds of British Honduras. Ibis 6:
E. A. and D. S. Lee (eds.) Status and Conservation of West Indian
Seabirds. Society of Caribbean Ornithology, Special Publication Number
1. 225 pp.
Halewyn, R. and R. Norton. 1984.The status and conservation of seabirds
in the Caribbean. Pp. 169-222. in J. P. Croxall, P. G. Evans and R. W.
Schreiber (eds.) Status and Conservation of the World's Seabirds. ICBP
Tech. Publ., No. 2. 778 p.
by: Dave Lee and Will Mackin
Indian Breeding Seabird Atlas by Will
Mackin and David Lee is licensed
under a Creative
Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States
License. Based on
work at www.wicbirds.net.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.wicbirds.net.
Citation: Lee, D. S., W. A. Mackin. 2009. Black Noddy. West Indian
Breeding Seabird Atlas
<http://www.wicbirds.net/blno.html>. Last Updated: _____.
Date accessed: ______.