Birds & Mammals
INDO-PACIFIC Tropical Seashore

The different species of birds found on the tropical seashores of the Indian and Pacific oceans...

Class Aves: Birds

There are over 10,000 species of birds in the world, and they have successfully established themselves in almost every ecosystem all over the planet, including the most remote coasts and smallest sand islands, where there is little other large land based life. They are noticeable not just because they are diverse and widespread, but also because they are often daytime active, therefore making them the most obvious animals in any particular region. There are many types of birds that can be seen along the tropical seashores, including some that are visitors from other neighbouring ecosystems, such as savanna and rainforest, that happen to be right on the coast. This page focuses more on those birds that are seen regularly along the tropical seashore. This habitat serves different purposes for different types of birds at different times of their lives. For example; the more marine based birds, such as boobies and terns, are found on the tropical seashores in their greatest numbers when breeding, whereas the waders mostly breed out of the region and use the tropical seashores to feed. Unlike most of the vertebrates, there are even many species that specialize along the tropical seashore. They are not only one of the most abundant groups of animal along the tropical seashore, but with their flight, feeding and behaviour, they are one of the most fascinating.

Family Burhinidae: Thick-knees
Recurvirostridae: Stilts & Avocets

Family Haematopodidae: Oystercatchers

Haematopus longirostris, 'Pied Oystercatcher', (Lacepede Islands, Australia).

(Lacepede Islands, Australia)

Haematopus fuliginosus, 'Sooty Oystercatcher'.

Family Charadriidae: Plovers, Dotterels

(Lacepede Islands, Western Australia)

Charadrius ruficapillus, 'Red-capped Plover'.

Family Scolopacidae: Sandpipers, Snipes

(Lacepede Islands, Western Australia)

Calidris ruficollis, 'Red-necked Stint'.

(Lacepede Islands, Western Australia)

Arenaria interpres, 'Ruddy Turnstone'. Widespread throughout most of the coasts of the world.

Family Dromadidae: Crab Plover

Family Laridae: Terns and Gulls

the secret of tern pair bonding, is that "one good tern deserves another"

Terns usually breed in pairs that are monogamous for the season.

(Alim Island, Papua New Guinea)

Sterna sumatrana'Black-naped Tern'.


Thalasseus bengalensis, 'Lesser Crested Tern'.

(Lacepede Islands, Australia)

Thalasseus bergii, 'Crested Tern'.

(Michaelmas Cay, Australia)

Crested Tern with egg.

(Lacepede Islands, Australia)

Hydroprogne caspia, 'Caspian Tern'.

(Michalemas Cay, Australia).

Onychoprion fuscatus, 'Sooty Tern', 'Wide-a-awake Tern'. 

(Lady Musgrave Island)

Onychoprion anaethetus'Bridled Tern'. Differs from Sooty Tern by having duller darker back (but not as light as the 'Grey-backed Tern').

(Ducie Atoll, Pitcairn Islands)

Gygis alba, 'White Tern'. Sometimes called 'Fairy Tern. Stunning all white tern with sharp bill and large black eyes. Mostly found on very remote oceanic islands.

(Oeno Island, Pitcairn Islands)

White Terns nest on branches. Their single egg balances precariously on a beach tree branch with no nesting material. The small but pugnacious chick follows.

Annous, 'Noddies'

Noddys are terns with the colours reversed; instead of being white with a dark cap, they are dark with a light cap. They have stronger feet and legs, and broader wings than many other terns. These broader, gull-like wings are used to glide more than other terns. Unlike most other terns, rather than diving into the water to catch prey, they skim through the surface of the water and, like gulls, they are often seen sitting on the surface of the water. When resting from feeding and flying, they have been recorded to perch on sea turtles and even pelicans.

A pair of noddies, nodding.

Although these birds often 'nod' to let the salt seep from glands near their eyes, this is not the source of the name; the name 'noddy' alludes to the naivety of the bird, making it easy to catch them.

Tribe Larini: ‘Gulls’

Gulls are similar in many ways to their close relatives the terns, but differ in the fact that they have heavier bodies and are less aerial. Generally, adult gulls are coloured in whites and greys, with patches of blacks for contrast. As in some other types of seabird, blood brightens the bill and the legs in many species of breeding adults. They are much more common in the temperate seas of the world than in the tropics. Gulls are of course mainly associated with the oceans, but they are not found too far out to sea, and they are usually a good indicator of nearby land.

(Davey Cay, Great Barrier Reef, Australia)

Larus novaehollandiae,  ‘Silver Gull’. Slim handsome gull with light grey upperparts, snow white head underparts. Breeding adults have bright red bill and legs. This is the common gull in Australasia, and often just referred to as ‘seagull’. It is taken for granted as has increased in urban areas, and even considered a nuisance. It is less common on tropical seashores, where it scavenges around sea bird breeding colonies, and is one of the biggest predators the nesting birds have to deal with, as it strides around cracking and eating unhatched eggs or preying on chicks by standing behind them and pecking through their heads.

Family Phaethonitidae, Tropicbirds''s so cute and fwuffy! (Aride, Seychelles)

White-tailed Tropicbird chick.

Family Procellariidae: Petrels & Shearwaters

(Ducie Atoll, Pitcairn Islands)

Pterodroma ultima, 'Murphy's Petrel'. Mostly all dark grey, often has a 'dirty' white face. Mostly breeds on remote Ducie Atoll in the Pitcairn group, eastern Pacific. These birds are thought to be one of the most far-ranging foraging seabirds in the world.

Family Fregatidae: Frigatebirds

Lacepede Islands, Australia)

Lesser Frigatebird growing chick with adult (chick on left).

Family Sulidae, Boobies

(Alim Island, Papua New Guinea)

Sula sula, 'Red-footed Booby'.

(Lacepede Islands, Australia)

Sula leucogaster, 'Brown Booby', in flight.

Lacepede Islands, Australia)

With it's fluff, the growing chick of the Brown Booby quickly appears larger than the parent.

(Lacepede Islands, Australia)

Brown Booby large growing chick. As the chicks grow, they are left by the parents for longer and longer time periods.

Family Phalacrocoracidae: Cormorants

(Lacepede Islands, Australia)

Phalacrocorax varius, 'Pied Cormorant'.

Family Pelecanidae: Pelicans

(Lacepede Islands, Australia)

Pelecanus conspicillatus, 'Australian Pelican'.

Family Ardeidae: Herons, Egrets, Bitterns

(Lacepede Islands, Australia)

Egretta sacra, 'Eastern Reef Egret'.

(Misool, Indonesia)

 Eastern Reef Egret, in flight.

(Misool, Indonesia)

Butorides striata,, 'Mangrove/Striated Heron'.

Family Accipitridae: Hawks, Kites, Eagles

(Krakatoa, Indonesia)

Haliaeetus leucogaster, 'White-bellied Sea-eagle'. Large bird of prey found along tropical shores of Australasia and Asia.

Class Mammalia

The only mammals to be regularly seen in these habitats are flying fox, as bats can fly and disperse themselves to these remote islands.


'Indian Flying Fox'

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