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Species Guide

Lesser Noddy

Anous tenuirostris

The lesser noddy, also known as the sooty noddy, is a seabird of modest size, with a length ranging from 30 to 34 centimeters and a wingspan of 58 to 63 centimeters. It weighs between 97 and 120 grams. Its plumage is predominantly brownish-black, with a lighter forehead and crown, presenting a slightly paler appearance than its relative, the black noddy.

Identification Tips

When observing the lesser noddy, one should note its smaller stature and paler coloration compared to the black noddy. The pale lores, the area between the eye and the bill, are distinctive features that aid in its identification.


This seabird is typically found in proximity to coastlines, where it can be seen gracefully navigating the air currents.


The lesser noddy has a geographical range that includes the coastlines of the Comoros, Kenya, India, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and the United Arab Emirates.


A remarkable aspect of the lesser noddy's behavior has been observed on Fregate Island in the Seychelles, where giant tortoises have been seen hunting these birds, a rare and unexpected interaction.

Conservation status

The lesser noddy is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating that, for now, the species does not face an immediate threat of extinction.


Initially described by Coenraad Jacob Temminck in 1823, the lesser noddy was once considered a subspecies of the black noddy. However, molecular studies have confirmed its close relationship with the black noddy, justifying its status as a distinct species. There are two recognized subspecies: A. t. tenuirostris, found in the islands of the west and north Indian Ocean, and A. t. melanops, native to the Houtman Abrolhos Islands off Western Australia.

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Lesser Noddies on Birda


More Gulls, Terns, Skimmers

A photo of a Black Noddy (Anous minutus)

Black Noddy

Anous minutus
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