White-tailed Tropicbird – Accepted

1. 24 May–23 Jun 1964


Upper Newport Bay ORA



Fig. 68, ph., Hetrick & McCaskie (1965), Roberson (1980)






Figure 68. This stunning adult White-tailed Tropicbird, photographed on 20 June 1964 at Upper Newport Bay, Orange County, remains the only one recorded in California (1984-043; Wes Hetrick).





White-tailed Tropicbird

WHITE-TAILED TROPICBIRD Phaethon lepturus Daudin, 1802

Accepted: 1 (100%)

Treated in Appendix H: no

Not accepted: 0

CBRC review: all records

Not submitted/reviewed: 0

Color image: none

This widespread and wide-ranging seabird nests on numerous tropical and subtropical islands, with those in the Hawaiian chain supporting the colonies closest to California. Vagrants have reached the Canadian Maritimes, many eastern states, Arizona, Chiapas in southern Mexico, and Panama. Arizona’s occurrence pertains to an exhausted bird recovered on 22 August 1980 in Scottsdale and identified as P. l. dorotheae (Monson and Phillips 1981, but see Rosenberg and Witzeman 1998).

California’s outlandish record of the White-tailed Tropicbird involves an adult that displayed to remote-controlled gliders at Upper Newport Bay, Orange County, from 24 May through 23 June 1964 (Hetrick and McCaskie 1965; Figure 68). The bird had a greenish bill, a feature of adult P. l. dorotheae of the tropical Pacific Ocean, the subspecies most likely to reach California.