Kauai Sea Tours


Hawaiian Seabird Overview


Hawaii's only un-waterproof sea bird - our "Noddie" Tern

(Referenced from Seabirds of Hawaii by Craig S. Harrison)

What: Noddies are distinguished from terns by their distinctive nodding and bowing behavior during mating ceremonies, but "tern" properly includes noddies.

Where: There are over 9 million noddies and terns (3 species of each) that make up the 15 million seabirds of Hawaii. Noddies are widespread in all tropical oceans and once bred in virtually every island group in the tropical Pacific.

How come they aren't waterproof? Unlike other seabirds, they lack substantial oil glands at the base of their tails. Thus they can become very bedraggled and even drown if they alight on the water for more than a few minutes.

What do noddies look like? Black noddies are dark with white capes, long pointed bills, and slightly forked tails. These birds have two color phases in Hawaii: in the light phase black noddies are dark gray-brown with pale gray tails, in the dark phase they are a uniform sooty black. Unlike black noddies elsewhere, the Hawaiian population has yellow-orange legs and feet.

What do they eat? Black noddies feed inshore over schools of near shore predatory fishes such as little tunas and jacks, often within a few meters of the shoreline. Black noddies eat virtually all fish; larval and juvenile forms of goatfish, Foster's lizard fish, round herrings, flying fish and gobies.

Where and when do they have their babies? Black noddies nest on available cliff ledges and rocky pinnacles throughout the Hawaiian archipelago. Many colonies are located in rocky sea caves where nests are constructed above the surge of the high water. They will also nest in ironwood trees, beach heliotropes and bunchgrass.

Noddies will feed each other as part of the mating ritual: All terns and noddies have ceremonial fish flights in which one bird presents and sometimes transfers a fish to its partner. The nodding and bowing typical of noddies occurs when a male feeds his mate before she lays her egg.

How many chicks do they have at one time? The nod die typically lays one egg in the winter and spring, the egg representing almost 27% of the female's body weight. Black noddies grow the fastest out of all of the terns and noddies, and average 38 days from hatching to first flight.

How long do noddies live? It is believed that Black noddies live to 25 years of age.

Cool Facts:

Did you know that Kauai used to be where the Big Island of Hawaii was about 5 million years ago. Kauai at the present moment is 500km or 300 miles northwest of the Big Island.

Kauai used to be over 9,000 feet tall at its highest point. At the present moment the highest point is 5,243 feet at Kawaikini point.

Can you guess who the vegetarian is: monk seal, humpback whale, green sea turtle, or spinner dolphin?

Green Sea Turtle Who swims faster the monk seal, the humpback whale or the green sea turtle?

Green Sea Turtle 25mph


Reservations Toll Free: 800-733-7997
Tel: 808-826-PALI | Fax: 808 335 3422