Brown Noddy (Anous stolidus)

Little Tobago Island, Tobago

June 22, 2012

Brown Noddy

Nancy took this picture from a boat traveling from Trinidad to Tobago on a trip led by Brian Rapoza for the Tropical Audubon Society.

This is the largest of the noddies, about 15 to 18 inches long, with a wingspan of 30 to 34 inches. In the United States, they are best known for colonies on the Dry Tortugas in the Florida Keys, but might also be found off Hawaii. They are widespread in tropical oceans, including the Caribbean and Atlantic, Pacific, the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and around Australia.

Both their Greek genus name (anous) and Latin specific name (stolidus) mean stupid or foolish; they were well known to sailors for their apparent indifference to hunters or predators. Their common name is based on the bowing and nodding moves they make in courtship.

Noddies eat in flight by dipping and taking small fish from or very near the surface of the water, especially when the fish are scared to the surface by predators below. In the Tortugas, they build their nests just off the ground in bay cedar or cactus using sticks and seaweed. In some other areas they lay their eggs on bare rocks on cliffs. Both parents incubate their egg for 35 to 38 days to hatch, and then feed the chicks by regurgitation until after the chicks fly in six to seven weeks.

Photographic details: Canon EOS 7D camera w/ EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens set at 400mm. Off-camera flash was used. Camera was on f/5.6 for 1/2,000 second at ISO 800.

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  Canvas N/A 19" x 121/2"

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