STRAW IN TAIL
phaeton lepturus [= Thin tailed]
This sea bird, with pigeon-like flight, most commonly seen off the North Shore Islands, grows to about 15-16”, or to include the delicate, elongated tail, up to 32”. The French West Indian name is Paille-en-queue (= Straw in tail).
The wingspan is about 3 feet and the bird weighs about 1 lb. Notice a black stripe on the wings. Tropic Birds dive from a height of from 50 - 100 feet for fish, squid and they also feed on crabs. The nests may be found on bare rocks and in holes on the edge of cliffs. One egg is laid, which is pinkish and speckled. The young fly about 62 days after hatching. Though graceful in flight they shove themselves on the breast along the ground as the legs are so far back. Adults utter a cry of “Kareek, keek, kark”. The Red-billed Tropic Bird may also be seen. It has narrow black bars across the back and a part of the wings.
Special thanks to the late Desmond Nicholson of the Museum of Antigua & Barbuda and Peter Duce for making this section of Antigua Nice Ltd possible!