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Species Guide
A photo of a Black Noddy (Anous minutus)
Black Noddy

Black Noddy

Anous minutus

The Black Noddy, known scientifically as Anous minutus, is a medium-sized seabird with a distinctive white cap contrasting its otherwise dark plumage. This species, also referred to as the White-capped Noddy, is a member of the tern family Laridae.

Identification Tips

Adult Black Noddies measure approximately 35–37 cm in length, with a wingspan ranging from 66–72 cm, and weigh between 98–144 grams. They exhibit dark plumage overall, with a pale crown that provides a stark contrast. Notable features include a small white crescent beneath each eye and a white spot above. Their wings are long and tapering, and the tail is truncated. The bill is sharply pointed and black in color. The feet are fully webbed, typically black, though the subspecies melanogenys boasts orange webbing.


Black Noddies are found in tropical and subtropical seas. They often nest in trees, with a preference for the Pisonia tree, creating level platforms adorned with dried leaves and guano.


This species enjoys a global distribution across warm seas. Colonies are widespread in the Pacific Ocean, with additional populations scattered throughout the Caribbean, central Atlantic, and the northeast Indian Ocean. They are typically observed within 80 km of shore and return to their colonies or other islands to roost at night.


The name "noddy" may derive from the birds' head-dipping behavior during breeding displays. Black Noddies are remarkably human-tolerant, to the point where they can be handled while nesting. They forage for fish and squid by skimming the ocean surface, occasionally joining other seabirds when predatory fish drive prey to the surface.


Black Noddies construct their nests as level platforms in tree branches, utilizing dried leaves and bird droppings. They lay one egg per season and often reuse nests in subsequent years. The guano produced is a significant nutrient source for plant communities on coral islands.

Similar Species

The Black Noddy is similar in appearance to the Lesser Noddy but can be distinguished by its slightly darker plumage and dark lores as opposed to the pale lores of its counterpart.

Diet and Feeding

Their diet consists primarily of fish and squid, which they pick up by flying low over the sea. They may also feed in association with other seabirds during feeding frenzies.

Conservation status

The Black Noddy is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that it is not at immediate risk of population decline or extinction.

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