satellite view from PMNM
E komo mai; welcome! Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is surrounded by a lei of foam in the middle of the North Pacific; it's a beautiful, special place.

Not only are there albatross on Midway, but many other interesting kinds of wildlife, both on the land and in the sea. Please enjoy exploring FOAM, an educational blog actively done while on Midway from May through August 2010. Posts are added from off-Midway, as information becomes available. If you're interested in a particular topic, please use the search box or the alphabetical list of "labels" along the left side of the blog page.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Red-tailed Tropicbirds are NOT Songbirds

FOAM has had a lot of posts about albatross.  As of today, July 20, there have been a total of 29 albatross posts.  That's okay.  After all, FOAM means Friends of Albatross on Midway.
But there are other birds here as well.  I have sort of a "love-hate" relationship with the Red-tailed Tropicbirds.  I love how beautiful they are.  Look at these pictures of adult RTTR.  What a glossy white bird, with striking black feathers around the eye!  And isn't that a beautiful red bill?  If you look closely at the top picture and the one to the right left-hand picture, which shows an adult resting in the native `Akulikuli (Sea Purslane, Sesuvium portulacastrum), you can see the red tail-feather that's present only during mating season.  After mating season the feather falls off.

But I hate the Tropicbird's call.  If you get too close to one of these birds it screams at you with a really loud, raspy squawk.  The video below was taken from the porch of Midway Atoll's Clipper House, a lovely place where our meals are served.  If you look closely, you'll see the famous circular mating flight of some RTTR in the distance.  They fly in a vertical circle: flying up toward the sky, then backwards, then down toward the ocean, forward, and then repeat.  (I know, I know; you wish I would zoom in on those white specks that are birds!  I have a really, really simple camera, and if I use the zoom, the video gets fuzzy.)  The good thing about the video is its audio, which gives you an ear-full from the Red-tailed Tropicbirds sailing overhead.  They definitely are not songbirds!

Strange Flight of the Tropicbirds from Barb Mayer on Vimeo.

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