Black noddy (Anous minutus)

loading
Black noddy pair sitting on a branch
loading
Loading more images and videos...

Black noddy fact file

Black noddy description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderCharadriiformes
FamilyLaridae
GenusAnous (1)

A medium-sized tropical tern with a dark, slender, pointed bill, the black noddy (Anous minutus) has sooty black plumage with a starkly contrasting clean, white head cap that gradually blends into the dark neck (2) (3) (4) (5). With a colouration that is the reverse of most terns, which are typically white with a black cap, the black noddy also has a white crescent on the lower eyelid and there is a white spot on the upper rim. The male and female black noddy are much alike, but the juvenile bird has greyish feathers on the upperside of the wings (2) (3) (4). An elegant seabird that is most graceful in flight, the black noddy has long, tapering wings, a wedge-shaped tail, and short, black legs with fully-webbed feet (3) (6)

The origin of the slightly unusual name, noddy, is uncertain, but it may be derived from their breeding displays in which both birds nod at each other, or perhaps because sailors once called them “noddies”, which means 'simpletons', as they are easily caught by hand when nesting (3) (4). In addition, the genus name Anous means ‘unmindful’ in Greek and refers to the birds’ tolerance of humans (3).

Also known as
lesser noddy, sooty noddy, white-capped noddy.
French
Noddi noir.
Size
Length: 35 - 39 cm (2)
Wingspan: 66 - 72 cm (2)
Weight
98 - 144 g (2)
Top

Black noddy biology

A proficient predator of fish, the black noddy flies low over the water and seizes its prey at the surface while remaining airborne, or by splashing its bill into the water, without fully submerging. Foraging during the day in large flocks, it depends on predatory fish, such as tuna, to drive its prey towards the water surface where it can reach it without diving (3) (4)

As with the other noddies, the black noddy is unusual in being one of few species in the Laridae family that nests in trees or shrubs, with most other species being ground-nesters, although it does also nest on ledges of cliffs and sea caves. The black noddy typically nests in colonies, with the nest being a shallow cup made of vegetation, such as seaweed, moss and dead leaves. A single egg is laid and, unlike most seabirds, the black noddy may produce two clutches in a single breeding season. The egg is incubated for 30 to 37 days, with the chick fed on regurgitated fish and fledging at approximately 48 to 60 days, although it may remain with the adult birds for several weeks afterwards. The black noddy is a relatively long-lived species and does not reach sexual maturity until it is several years old (3) (4).

Top

Black noddy range

A widespread seabird with a worldwide distribution across tropical and subtropical waters, the black noddy occurs in the western and central Pacific Ocean, with scattered populations in the Caribbean, central and eastern Atlantic and northeast Indian Ocean (4) (7).

Top

Black noddy habitat

The black noddy inhabits oceanic and coastal islands, ranging from low, sandy atolls to high, rocky islands. Outside of the breeding season the black noddy typically remains close to nesting islands, although it may occasionally travel across open sea to other islands (3) (7).

Top

Black noddy status

The black noddy is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

Top

Black noddy threats

While the global population of the black noddy currently appears to be stable, with the species’ breeding range and population even expanding on islands around the Great Barrier Reef (7), many populations are in decline or have been lost altogether due to a combination of hunting and habitat loss (3). On many South Pacific Islands, seabirds have long been an important part of peoples’ diet and the black noddy is still heavily harvested in the North Marshall Islands and at Fakaofo in Tokelau, where 1,000 black noddies are consumed each year. Elsewhere, egg collection may have destroyed a breeding colony off Belize, while seabird collection is a continuing problem on Los Roques Island off Venezuela and in Indonesia. The destruction of the black noddy’s breeding habitat is also a big problem in many regions, with nesting trees and shrubs often cleared to make room for cultivation, livestock grazing and developments. On many South Pacific Islands, vegetation is often cleared for coconut palm plantations, while in the Caribbean the cutting of mangroves for charcoal burning threatens the species. Furthermore, grazing by introduced goats and human activities on St. Helena has restricted the black noddy to nesting on offshore stacks and inaccessible cliffs. The black noddy is potentially also vulnerable to contamination from oil spills, agricultural runoff, and oceanic dumping of waste (3).

Top

Black noddy conservation

Conservation of the black noddy has generally centred on the protection of its breeding sites and has been met with variable success thus far. Most populations on the Hawaiian Islands are well protected with populations monitored, habitat protected, human disturbance managed and introduced species controlled. Elsewhere in the Pacific there have been few efforts to protect populations and where laws are in place to restrict or prohibit the hunting of birds or collection of eggs, enforcement is often challenging or inadequate (3).

ARKive is supported by OTEP, a joint programme of funding from the UK FCO and DFID which provides support to address priority environmental issues in the Overseas Territories, and Defra
Top

Find out more

For more information on the black noddy and other bird species, see:

Top

Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

Top

Glossary

Genus
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Incubate
To keep eggs warm so that development is possible.
Top

References

  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2010)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliot, A. and Sargatal, J. (1996) Handbook of Birds of the World. Volume 3: Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. Gauger, V.H. (1999). Black noddy (Anous minutus). In: Poole, A. (Ed.) The Birds of North America Online. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca. Available at:
    http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/412/articles/introduction
  4. Contreras-González, A.M., Rodríguez-Flores, C., Soberanes-González, C. and Arizmendi, M.C. (2010) Black noddy (Anous minutus). In: Schulenberg, T.S. (Ed.) Neotropical Birds Online. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca. Available at:
    http://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/portal/species/overview?p_p_spp=162421
  5. U.S. Geological Survey – Black noddy (November, 2010)
    http://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i0791id.html
  6. Perrins, C. (2009) The Encyclopedia of Birds. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  7. BirdLife International (October, 2010)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=3295&m=0
X
Close

Image credit

Black noddy pair sitting on a branch  
Black noddy pair sitting on a branch

© Roy Glen / www.ardea.com

Ardea wildlife pets environment
59 Tranquil Vale
London
SE3 0BS
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 318 1401
ardea@ardea.co.uk
http://www.ardea.com

X
Close

Link to this photo

ARKive species - Black noddy (Anous minutus) Embed this ARKive thumbnail link ("portlet") by copying and pasting the code below.

Terms of Use - The displayed portlet may be used as a link from your website to ARKive's online content for private, scientific, conservation or educational purposes only. It may NOT be used within Apps.

Read more about

X
Close

MyARKive

MyARKive offers the scrapbook feature to signed-up members, allowing you to organize your favourite ARKive images and videos and share them with friends.

Play the Team WILD game:

Team WILD, an elite squadron of science superheroes, needs your help! Your mission: protect and conserve the planet’s species and habitats from destruction.

Conservation in Action

Which species are on the road to recovery? Find out now »

Help us share the wonders of the natural world. Donate today!

Blog