The noddies form their own little subgroup within the terns, a small tropical group (how related they are to each other I am unsure) that will be familiar to anyone birding on tropical islands, especially those far from continents. The name of these terns comes from their utter fearlessness on their breeding grounds, which was sadly taken for foolhardiness. It does make them excellent subjects for photography if you ever find yourself in their colonies however. I was lucky enough to have the chance to spend time with four species on French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, on the aptly named Tern Island. One of these species was the Brown Noddy.

Brown NoddyThe Brown Noddy

IMG_1727On Tern Island the species nests on the ground, in other places it may nest on cliffs or in large trees

nestingNesting in dense vegetation (for a Brown Noddy anyway)

baby brown noddyA chick!

noddy skyPhotographing Brown Noddies requires getting down low

loafing brown noddyLoafing around

noddy callingBrown Noddies are quite vocal

SceneBrown Noddies share their colonies with many other species

LewisLewis was a leucistic Brown Noddy chick

Brown Noddy wallOn the seawall

Written by Duncan
Duncan Wright is a Wellington-based ornithologist working on the evolution of New Zealand's birds. He's previously poked albatrosses with sticks in Hawaii, provided target practice for gulls in California, chased monkeys up and down hills Uganda, wrestled sharks in the Bahamas and played God with grasshopper genetics in Namibia. He came into studying birds rather later in life, and could quit any time he wants to.