Sunday, November 4, 2012

Red-billed Tropicbird

Tropicbirds, found in tropical seas around the world, are gull-like birds with greatly elongated central tail feathers. Erika discovered this Red-billed Tropicbird because the long tail feathers tickled her ankles as she walked by the bird’s nest under the rocks in the Galapagos Islands.

Tropicbirds are yet another member of the order Pelicaniformes (along with pelicans and cormorants) because of all their toes being webbed. The order, however, is under revision by geneticists, who are finding that the various families in the order are not closely related. Expect to see changes in the taxonomy of these birds. Recently researchers suggested that tropicbirds are actually most closely related to sunbitterns (heron-like birds of the American tropics).

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