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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Phaetontidae
Genus: Phaeton
Red-billed tropicbird
P. aetherius
White-tailed tropicbird
P. lepturus
Red-tailed tropicbird
P. rubricauda

The three tropicbirds are closely related seabirds of tropical oceans. They are basically slender white birds with very long central tail feathers. Their long wings have black markings, as does the head.

They breed on tropical islands laying a single egg directly onto the ground or a cliff ledge.

They feeding on fish and squid, but are poor swimmers.

Red-billed tropicbird occurs in the tropical Atlantic, eastern Pacific and Indian oceans. The Indian Ocean race of Red-billed tropicbird P. a. indicus was at one time considered a full species, Lesser red-billed tropicbird.

Red-tailed tropicbird occurs in the Indian Ocean and the western and central tropical Pacific.

White-tailed tropicbird is widespread in tropical waters, except in the eastern Pacific.

This group is related to other Pelecaniformes as below:


The Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy gives a radically different scientific arrangement for this group based on DNA studies.

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