For More Information Books

del Hoyo, Josep, A. Elliott, and J. Sargatal, eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 1, Ostrich to Ducks. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, 1992.


Seabirds have many special body parts that help them live on the ocean. Their webbed feet are perfect for swimming. They have air sacs under their skin that make for a soft landing when they plunge into the water. Their long wings help them soar above the waves, and their eyes are good for seeing prey underwater. They have glands that get rid of extra salt, and other glands that supply them with oil to make their feathers waterproof. Seabirds have one more important feature, bills that are designed for grabbing slippery fish.

Haley, Delphine, ed. Seabirds of Eastern North Pacific and Arctic Waters. Seattle: Pacific Search Press, 1984.

Johnsgard, Paul A. Cormorants, Darters, and Pelicans of the World. Washington, DC and London: Smithsonian Institution, 1993.

Kaufman, Kenn. Lives of North American Birds. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1996.

Nelson, J. Bryant. The Sulidae: Gannets and Boobies. Oxford, London, Glasgow: Oxford University Press, 1978.

Soper, Tony. Oceans of Seabirds. London: David and Charles Publishers, 1989.

Stuart, Chris and Tilde. Birds of Africa from Seabirds to Seed-Eaters. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1999.


de Roy, Tui. "To Swim with Pelicans." International Wildlife (January-February 1995): 4-11.

McGrath, Susan. "Shoot-Out at Little Galloo: Angry Fishermen Accuse the Cormorant of Ruining Their Livelihood." Smithsonian (February 2003): 72-78.

Miller, Claire. "Super Scoopers." (pelicans) Ranger Rick (July 1999): 6-12.

Milner, Richard. "Spray It Again." (pelican behavior) Natural History (July 2001): 80-82.

Morgan, S. M., M. A. Ashley-Ross, and D. J. Anderson. "Incubation in Masked Boobies." American Zoologist (December 2000): 1139.

Weimerkirch, Henri, Olivier Chastel, Christophe Barbraud, and Olivier Tostain. "Frigatebirds Ride High on Thermals."Nature (January 23, 2003): 333-334.

Web sites:

The Ocean Conservancy. (accessed on July 14, 2004).

TROPICBIRDS Phaethontidae

Class: Aves Order: Pelecaniformes Family: Phaethontidae Number of species: 3 species



Tropicbirds are medium-sized seabirds. The males and females look similar, with long tail streamers, webbed feet, a yellow or red bill that curves downward, and long, pointed wings. They are between 29 and 40 inches (74 and 100 centimeters) in length, with their long tails accounting for about half of that length. The wingspan of the tropicbirds is 37 to 44 inches (94 to 112 centimeters), and they weigh between 10.6 to 26.5 ounces (300 to 750 grams). Their feathers are mostly white, sometimes with a little pink, and they have black wing markings and black marks at the eyes. Red-billed tropicbirds and the young of all three species have speckled feathers on their backs.


Tropicbirds live in warm, tropical waters and breed on islands all across the oceans.


Tropicbirds build their nests on tropical islands. When they are not nesting, they fly over the ocean and rest on the water.


Flying fish are the main food of tropicbirds. They also feed on other kinds of fish and squid. They can catch flying fish in the air or fly into the water and catch prey near the surface. They usually search for food alone or in pairs, but they may also join large flocks of other seabirds.

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