Texas Pelagics

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Red-billed Tropicbird

by | Jun 14, 2022

* Red-billed Tropicbird  Phaethon aethereus

Texas Coastal / Offshore Status: Of the 15 documented records all but one are from coastal / offshore areas.  Rare in summer and fall in the Gulf of Mexico. 

Habitat: This species is found in Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean, as well as the eastern Pacific and northern Indian Ocean. Birds that show up in Texas waters are likely from the Atlantic race (P.a.mesonata). At least several of the Texas records have been juveniles. Unlike other pelagic species, Red-billed Tropicbirds are occasionally found in the relatively shallow waters over the continental shelf. Sometimes follows boats.

Similar Species: Red-billed Tropicbird can be distinguished from White-tailed Tropicbird in both adults and juvenile plumage by having black primary coverts. Compared to juvenile White-tailed, juvenile Red-billed also has an eyeline that meets behind the nape and a more finely barred back.

* Texas Review Species, requiring written or photographic documentation to TBRC.
(2) Lower Texas Coast Status from Brad McKinney’s annotated checklist (updated 2009).


Seasonal Occurrence Graph

Texas Pelagics Sightings Distribution

This map shows the geographic distribution of Red-billed Tropicbird found in Offshore Texas (and Gulf of Mexico)
Click on the box in the upper left of the map to view the map legend.
Click on each sighting symbol and the data label will appear showing the time, date and the number of birds seen.
Click on the symbol on the top right of the map to view a larger map.

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