Phaethon aethereus (Red-billed tropicbird) 

Rooibekpylstert [Afrikaans]; Roodsnavelkeerkringvogel [Dutch]; Phaéton à bec rouge [French]; Rotschnabel-tropikvogel [German]; Rabijunco-riscado [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Ciconiiformes > Family: Phaethontidae

Phaethon aethereus (Red-billed tropicbird)   

Red-billed tropicbird, Senegal. [photo Thom Haslam ©]


Distribution and habitat

Occurs across the East Pacific Ocean, South Atlantic Ocean, the Red Sea and the north-west Indian Ocean. It has been recorded six times in southern African waters, mainly off the Atlantic coast of Namibia and Cape Town.


It mainly eats fish and squid, caught by plunge diving, although it may hawk flying fish aerially.


It nests in burrows or rocky crevices on tropical islands, such as Ascension Island and islands of the coast of Brazil.


Not threatened, although its colonies on tropical islands are seriously impacted by disturbance due to human activity and predation by introduced mammals.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 


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